The Supreme Court has scheduled to hear the matter of felling Aarey trees on Wednesday. The incident goes back to 2019 when scores of trees were axed late at night during the BJP-Shiv Sena rule to clear the site proposed for the under-construction Metro 3 car shed. The happening, which has now become a vexed political matter, also pitted BJP versus Shiv Sena, with the latter batting to save Aarey.
The hearing in the matter is listed before the bench of Justice U U Lalit. However, Zoru Bhathena, a petitioner of the 'Save Aarey' group, told The FPJ that they are sceptical about whether the matter will be heard on Wednesday as Justice Lalit has been appointed as Chief Justice of India and, he is set to take the oath on Saturday.
In the last hearing held on August 5, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL), which is the Metro 3 project implementing authority, had told that no trees have been cut in Mumbai's Aarey colony after October 2019. Appearing for the MMRCL, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had also promised that no more trees will be axed.
Bhathena said that they have prayed to the SC to direct the Maharashtra government to declare Aarey forest, including the depot site as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ). The Save Aarey group also sought to grant protection to the wildlife and direct the BMC to conduct GPS surveys of trees standing on the Aarey car shed plot.
It also demanded an inquiry against the MMRCL for “misleading” the narrative that the Kanjurmarg plot—the previously proposed car shed site--was under litigation.
Asserting that the Aarey car shed plot is environmentally sensitive, the petitioners D Stalin and Bhathena contended that this area has been excluded from being notified as an ESZ for other ulterior motives and not due to any environmental reasons.
“The Aarey metro car shed plot ought to be notified as an ESZ. The plot is within 1 km of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Hence, if any new work is to be undertaken there, the same can’t be done without the SC’s prior permission,” they underscored.
“The metro car shed plot ought to be notified as an ESZ as it’s within 1 km of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Hence, if any new work is to be undertaken there, the same can’t be done without the SC’s prior permission,” say petitioners.