Mumbai: More than 18 people were detained in Aarey Milk Colony on Saturday, for protesting after they saw trees being felled without a tree officer being present. Apparently, Aarey residents and tree-lovers had asked the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) workers to furnish permissions from the Tree Authority for felling the trees.
Having failed to furnish the required documents, objections were raised and the workers were urged to stop the tree felling spree. Residents have been raising objections since Friday. An MMRCL official who was present at the spot, went to the residents and categorically informed them, there was no need for a tree officer to be present. “You can go to the police if you want,” an official was heard saying.
Aarey residents and tree activists said the infrastructure body was prepared for the protests. “Today, bouncers were present from the beginning of day’s work. A Tree Officer was absent on both the days and as soon as residents objected, police took them to the Chhota Kashmir police station and the tree felling resumed,” said Ruben Mascarenhas, a member of Save Aarey organisation, whose members were also detained. Citizens were booked under section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code and detained for over five hours.
“We just asked them to furnish necessary documents and asked about the appointed tree officer. It is sad to witness a bitter outcome of good intentions. What is worse is permissions are being given even after so many objections,” Mascarenhas said. R Ramana, executive director, MMRCL, said there is no question of illegal happenings. “If a government organisation is working for the infrastructure of the city, how can one possibly think it is illegal? One can call it whatever one wants,” he said.