SC stops Maharashtra government from cutting anymore trees at Aarey Forest, Mumbai
New Delhi, Oct 07: The Supreme Court has directed the Maharashtra government not to cut any more trees at the Aarey Forest in Mumbai. The court made it clear that the if the trees cannot be cut legally, it cannot be done at all.
The court also sought a report from the Maharashtra government on the compulsory afforestation. Tell us how many saplings have you planted and how have they grown and what is the status of your forests, the court also sought to know from the Maharashtra government.
The court also recorded an undertaking by the Maharashtra government that it will not cut anymore trees in Aarey. The court also said that all activists should be released, if not done so far. The matter will be taken up next on October 21.
The Special Bench of the Supreme Court was hearing a petition regarding the felling of trees in Mumbai's Aarey to set up a Metro car shed which is being opposed by green activists and a section of people, including residents.
The matter was heard by a Bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Ashok Bhushan.
The Bench was told that there are wider issues relating to Aarey pending before the Supreme Court.
One of them is whether Aarey is a forest or not. The NGT too is hearing a case whether the Aarey is an eco-sensitive zone or not and hence authorities should not have gone ahead with the felling of trees.
The court sought to know if there is any notification calling Aarey as an eco-sensitive zone. The Bench was informed that such a notification was withdrawn by the state government. Show us the notification, the Bench further said.
The Bench said that it was a no development zone, but not an eco-sensitive zone. This is what we get and if you say otherwise, then show us the documents, the court also said.
The SC on Sunday set up a special bench on the basis of a letter addressed to the Chief Justice of India by one Rishav Ranjan against the cutting of the trees.
The top court decided to register the letter as a public interest litigation.
The court website posted a notice about holding an urgent hearing, stating, "Take notice that a special bench has been constituted to hear the matter tomorrow i.e October 7, 2019 at 10.00 AM on the basis of a letter dated October 6, 2019 addressed by Rishav Ranjan with regard to felling of trees in Aarey forest, state of Maharashtra which has been registered as a public interest litigation".
Green activists have been opposing axing of trees by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) in Aarey Colony in north Mumbai.
The trees are being felled to make way for a metro rake depot after the Bombay High Court on Friday dismissed a clutch of petitions challenging the Mumbai civic body's order for chopping the trees. The HC on Saturday refused to grant stay on felling of trees.