Mumbai: Even as Aarey Colony in city's suburban area is covered with green cover and several species, the Bombay High Court on Friday held it is not a forest.
This comes as a major boost for the Maharashtra government which has finalised a part of the total Aarey land for construction of a car shed for its controversial Metro III line.
The implication of this ruling can be larger as it can result in what the environmentalists fear - commercialisation of Aarey land.
A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre dismissed a petition filed by NGO Vanshakti seeking to declare Aarey a forest. The bench said the activists have failed to get such a relief as they did not follow the due procedure.
"Repeatedly, Davids (environmentalist) take on industrial Goliath's," CJ Nandrajog observed in his orders.
"The relationship with nature and love for environment alone is true and all other relationships are unreal and temporary, is their belief. Their hearts are a temple of devotion to flora and fauna," CJ noted.
However, the judges further said that despite this devotion the green activists failed as they were "direction less."
"In the instant case, the Davids row their boat with faith, courage and devotion in the storm of development; but directionless. The Greens fail in the instant petition because they have lost touch with the procedure to be followed as per law," CJ Nandrajog remarked.
Activists said the confusion if Aarey is a forest or not arose because of the lack of a nomenclature. They claimed that Aarey is an unclassified forest as per the government records.This is a category of forests, as per activists, which are not notified or declared under the Forests Act.
“Aarey has been a forest, it continues to be one. It has tribals living in it. They were given forest receipts way back in 1950s,” was one of the many submissions made by the green crusaders to get a declaration of Aarey being a forest.