In October, there were many protests held in city after the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) ordered to cut down trees in Aarey colony. Now reports have surfaced saying that more than 60 per cent of those trees which were transplanted from Aarey Colony and Sanjay Gandhi National Park have already died.
According to India Today, an Zoru Bhathena, who is representing petitioners in the Aarey tree felling case, has claimed that a substantial number of trees planted by the MMRCL where tree cover was affected during the work of Mumbai Metro 3 project are already dead.
A spokesperson of the MMRCL told India Today, that it transplanted 1,582 trees and 36 per cent of them i.e. 572 have survived. However, the MMRCL said that it also planted 23,846 new trees. "In one of the largest urban plantation and transplantation drives undertaken, as per the directive of the Tree Authority, MMRC has planted 23,846 new trees and transplanted 1,582 trees," the spokesperson said.
Speaking to India Today TV activist Zoru Bhatena said that he was shocked to see the shoddy work done by the authorities.
"It is extremely distressing to see rows and rows of dead trees transplanted by Metro 3. It is extremely sad to see that our government has technology to build a state-of-the-art Metro but none to save trees. Building a Metro and saving the tree cover can always go hand in hand. It never needs to be a fight for one over the other. It is very sad that our government is least bothered about the tree cover. Very sad," the activist told India Today TV.
The Bombay High Court had on October 4 refused to declare Aarey Colony a forest and declined to quash the Mumbai municipal corporation's decision to allow felling of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro car shed.
The law student in the letter said that "as we write this letter to you, Mumbai authorities continue to kill the lungs of Mumbai i.e Aarey forest by clearing of trees near Mithi river bank and according to news reports 1,500 trees have already been cleared by authorities".
Students have moved the apex court as the high court has rejected the bail plea of 29 activists who had participated in the "peaceful vigil" against the tree-felling and have been detained by Mumbai Police, the letter stated.
The Aarey forest is located adjacent to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and has five lakh trees, it said. The trees were proposed to be cut for Mumbai metro-3 project and specifically for construction of a car shed, it said and added the high court refused to recognise Aarey as a forest or declare it as an ecological sensitive issue because of jurisdictional limits.