Bombay High Court hears controversial PIL against metro car shed project in Aarey colony

The court has directed the BMC to respond to the petition and the hearing continues

Bombay High Court hears controversial PIL against metro car shed project in Aarey colony

The Bombay High Court is currently hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by environmental activist Zoru Bhathena. The PIL challenges a notice issued by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to cut down 177 trees in the Aarey Colony area as part of the Metro car shed project. The notice, filed by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) on January 12, 2023, has sparked controversy among environmentalists who see it as a violation of a November 2022 Supreme Court order. 

The Metro car shed project in the Aarey Colony has been a hot topic of discussion among environmental enthusiasts, with many opposing the plans to cut down hundreds of trees to make way for the project. The situation came ahead when the MMRCL filed a notice with the BMC to cut 177 trees. However, according to Bhathena, the notice is in violation of the November 2022 Supreme Court order, which only permitted the removal of 84 trees.

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The court hearing, which took place yesterday, saw BMC's senior counsel, Aspi Chinoy, present the corporation's stance. Chinoy argued that the 177 trees include the 84 trees mentioned in the Supreme Court order and that the remaining trees are mostly shrubs and wild trees that have grown since the MMRCL's first application in 2019. This claim was opposed by Bhathena's lawyer, Zamaan Ali, who stated that all 177 trees have been assigned ID numbers and cannot be considered shrubs or wild trees.

The Indian Express Reported, "Where do we get that these are shrubs? Also the Supreme Court order is of November 2022. This order deals with only 84 trees. At that time why was it not brought to the notice of the apex court that there are more than 84 trees that need to be removed? The question would be whether these are shrubs or trees," ACJ Gangapurwala said.

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The court pointed out that the public notice mentions 177 trees, not shrubs, and directed the BMC to respond in an affidavit to the petition by February 16. Meanwhile, Ali sought a restraining order from the court to prevent the BMC and MMRCL from taking any decision on the matter. In response, Chinoy assured the court that nothing will be done until the hearing of the petition is complete.

The previous government led by Uddhav Thackeray decided to construct the car shed at Kanjurmarg in 2019, but the current government led by Eknath Shinde reversed the decision and said it would be built in the Aarey Colony. 

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