On Friday, officials of the forest department reached plot number 26 in Mumbai's Aarey forest and started chopping trees. The Adivasis and local residents immediately protested and forced the workers to stop. According to the locals, as many as ten trees which were at least 25 feet long were cut.
Maharashtra Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray later asked the authorities to issue a "stop work" notice. He said it was "some old tendered work".
Taking to Twitter, Aaditya Thackeray said, "Received some photos of some old work tendered earlier, happening now in Aarey for a proposed concrete wall. I have asked the authorities to issue “stop work” notice immediately and asked for a report on the same."
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has "strongly objected" to trees being cut in Aarey. "The Aam Aadmi Party today strongly objected to the feeling of trees and clearance of land at Aarey for the proposed zoo. The locals on the ground were quick to respond and raised objections with the Govt officials present," said AAP leader Preeti Sharma Menon.
"It is plain foolish to destroy a forest to build a zoo. Globally, zoos are an obsolete concept , which is cruel to animals too. Aarey is contiguous with SGNP and it makes absolutely no sense to build a zoo, within an existing habitat with rich biodiversity," she added.
"Also, the 'work order' being cited by officials is 'expired' AAP is opposed to the idea of a zoo at Aarey and calls on Mumbaikars to ensure that Aarey stays as it is, which is the outcome of a people's movement to 'Save Aarey'. We demand that the Maharashtra Govt stop all work immediately and withdraw it's proposal for a zoo," Menon further said.