No Trees To Be Cut In Aarey Colony: SCAug 24, 2022 | Pratirodh Bureau
The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) to strictly abide by its undertaking that no trees would be cut in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony and warned that any violation will result in strict action.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice U U Lalit said he would hear the matter on August 30 after the counsel for the Maharashtra government sought time to collate documents.
“The counsel for MMRCL submits that her clients have already filed an affidavit that no trees have been or would be cut in any manner. The said undertaking by the MMRCL director has already been taken on record and MMRCL shall be strictly bound by the same,” the bench also comprising Justices S R Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia said.
Senior advocate Anitha Shenoy, appearing for the petitioner, alleged that clearing and levelling work is going on despite the apex court’s order.
The MMRCL had earlier told the Supreme Court that no trees have been cut in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony after October 2019.
The apex court in 2019 had taken suo motu cognisance of a letter petition addressed to the then Chief Justice of India by a law student seeking a stay on the felling of trees in Aarey Colony. The top court had restrained the authorities from cutting any more trees in Aarey Colony after the solicitor general had submitted on behalf of the state of Maharashtra that no further trees will be cut.
The felling of trees in the colony has been opposed by green activists and residents over the years. The Bombay High Court had, in October 2019, refused to declare Aarey Colony a forest and declined to quash the Mumbai municipal corporation’s decision to allow the cutting of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro car shed.
Police had imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in Aarey Colony and surrounding areas on October 5, 2019, banning unlawful assembly, following strong protests by activists against the felling of trees in the green zone. Subsequently, police booked 38 protesters under various sections of the IPC, including section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 143 (unlawful assembly) and 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object). (PTI)