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Hundreds resist felling of trees for Metro project in Mumbai's Aarey Colony; 200 detained

Hundreds resist felling of trees for Metro project in Mumbai's Aarey Colony; 200 detained

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 05 Oct 2019, 11:54 am

Mumbai: At least 200 activists have been detained and all roads leading to Aarey blocked as authorities began bulldozing trees for the construction of a Mumbai metro depot within hours of dismissal of all legal petitions by Bombay High Court against felling of 2,500 trees for the project.

Activists began to gather and some of them also entered the site to protest the action as authorities swung into action within hours after the rejection of pleas by the court.

According to them, the authorities are not following proper procedures to cut the trees, which can be done after 15 days of uploading the order for felling the trees on the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) website.

The green patch in the midst of urban Mumbai’s western suburbs, where leopards are spotted often and has been cited as an example of man-animal coexistence in a city like Mumbai, has been identified for a metro car shed for the Mumbai Metro Rail Corridor line from Colaba to SEEPZ (Special Electronics Export Processing Zone) in the Andheri East area, which runs between south and north Mumbai.

The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report 2012 for the proposed metro project in Aarey stated “no wildlife has been observed at project site”.

But cameratraps show otherwise. A group of researchers and wildlife enthusiasts, in collaboration with the forest department, has diligently been recording data of wildlife, including the elusive predators that have made Aarey their home, according to a report by Mongabay India.

Zoru Bhathena, a petitioner against the felling of trees, wrote on his Twitter handle: “Trees are being illegally cut at Aarey on Metro Depot plot. No tree can be cut for 15 days from permission. Permission has been uploaded on 04.10.19 at 4 pm on MCGM website. Kindly stop this illegal act & book the illegal tree cutters.”

Activists started gathering at Aarey colony after a video showing a tree being cut went viral, alleging that act illegal.

The immediate action of MCGM will prevent legal remedy against the order as the courts are closed for the weekend and then for Dussehra and by the time the courts reopen, the forest will be razed, activists said in their statement.

Mumbai Police has prohibited gathering of four or more people is prohibited in the area. An FIR against 38 activists has been lodged so far in connection with the case.

After the video went viral, Shiv Sena scion Aditya Thackeray spoke in favour of the activists and supported their resistance to "illegal" felling of trees by MCGM calling the act shameful.

He tweeted: "A project that should be executed with pride, the Metro 3, @MumbaiMetro3 has to do it in the cover of the night, with shame, slyness and heavy cop cover. The project supposed to get Mumbai clean air, is hacking down a forest with a leopard, rusty spotted cat and more."

"Entry into Aarey has been blocked even for Best buses and even residents, if this Shameful act is giving you so much fear why the hell are you even performing it. #SaveAarey."

However, Congress has attacked the young Shiv Sena leader for "shedding crocodile tears" since the municipality is run by the Sena-BJP combine. Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha in a tweet slammed Aditya Thackeray asking who runs the BMC.  

Environmentalists have been protesting the decision to build metro rail depot at the Aarey Colony which has more than five lakh trees.

The Bombay High Court dismissed the petition against felling of trees saying it cannot intervene in the matter as the case is pending before the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal.

The Aarey protests have attracted massive attention in Mumbai with celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar coming out in favour of the government.


Top Image: Mongabay-India


Hundreds resist felling of trees for Metro project in Mumbai's Aarey Colony; 200 detained

India Blooms News Service
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