Mumbai: No axing of trees at Aarey till September 30

Mumbai: In a temporary respite for city’s green activists, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation not to cut any tree at Aarey Colony in suburban Goregaon.

This means there is an indirect stay on the work on the car shed of the controversial Metro III line, which is expected to connect Colaba with SEEPZ through Bandra.

A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre asked the MMRCL not to chop any trees till September 30, when they next hear the petitions challenging the orders of the Tree Authority.

The Tree Authority had last month permitted the MMRCL to cut down over 2600 trees at Aarey to make way for Metro III line’s car shed. The decision has been challenged by activist Zoru Bhathena on the grounds that the Tree Authority has not followed the due procedure of law in permitting the felling of trees.

He has also claimed that the MMRCL can shift this car shed to some other site as this massacre of trees would adversely affect the environment.

On Tuesday, when the matter was taken up for hearing, the bench said it would take up Bhathena’s plea on September 30; but before that it would deal with other petitions, which were tagged together.

At this, senior advocate Janak Dwarkadas, appearing for Bhathena, told the bench that even though the MMRCL cannot cut trees till September 28, but still the agency must make a statement that it would not proceed further till the next date.

“As per the provisions of the Tree Act, the MMRCL cannot proceed with cutting trees at least till 15 days from the orders of the Tree Authority. This is a time frame for the members of the public to challenge the orders. Thus, till September 28, they cannot proceed in any manner,” Dwarkadas submitted.

“But still they should make a statement to this effect,” Dwarkadas insisted. At this, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, appearing for the MMRCL said he cannot make such a statement officially. Interrupting the AG, CJ Nandrajog said, “It is understood that the MMRCL will not proceed with cutting of trees till September 30, in any case.” The matter was accordingly adjourned.

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