On the day the Supreme Court ordered status quo on the felling of trees in Aarey Colony, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRC) said it had cut down 2,141 trees since October 4 and construction work to build a car shed and depot would soon begin.
“We respect the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court passed today. No future tree felling activity at the car shed site in Aarey Milk Colony will be undertaken. Other works, including clearing of already felled trees, will continue at the site,” said Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) spokesperson.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Maharashtra and Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC), today informed the court that “whatever has to be cut is cut” and “nothing further is to be cut”. He added that the court would go into the legality of the tree cutting whenever it hears it in detail.
The MMRC, in a statement, said that in order to compensate for the environmental loss it has planted 23,846 trees and distributed 25,000 saplings as part of its green initiatives.
The MMRC also said that following the Bombay High Court's order on October 4 upholding the permission granted by the Tree Authority, "the felling of 2,185 trees was undertaken on October 4 and 5, 2019 and as on date 2,141 trees have been felled."
"These will be cleared from the site and subsequent construction activities will be carried out," a MMRC spokesperson said.
The felling of trees at the Aarey forests began amid protests on the night of October 4 after the Bombay High Court earlier that day dismissed a petition challenging the corporation’s decision to allow felling of 2,185 trees and transplantation of 460 trees for the project.
A special bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Ashok Bhushan said that the top court’s Forest Bench will hear the matter in detail on October 21 to ascertain if it fell in the eco-sensitive zone and ordered status quo with respect to the cutting of trees till then.