Two weeks after the Supreme Court ordered status quo on the felling of trees in Aarey Colony in Mumbai, the Supreme Court on Monday clarified that it was not stopping the metro shed project. The apex court, however, said that its interim order on further felling of trees will continue.
A bench of justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta also sought a status report with pictures on plantation, transplantation and felling of trees in Aarey Colony. The bench asked the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) to submit photos and measurement of the girth and the height of the trees which were planted two years ago.
Earlier this month, the court had ordered the status quo after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Maharashtra and Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC), submitted that there will be no further tree felling.
Mehta said the court could record his statement 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.
“Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General appearing for the State of Maharashtra has stated that they are not going to cut any further trees till the next date of hearing. In the circumstances, the statement is quite fair,” the bench recorded in its order.
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.
Within two hours since 9 pm on Friday, the MMRCL team axed 450 trees with the help electric machines, a senior officer said. “However, due to protests by local tribals and other people, the work was a halted from 11 pm to 12.30 am. After which, with the help of local police, we managed to cut 2,134 trees till 9 pm on Saturday,” the officer said.