Aarey colony of Mumbai
Aarey colony of Mumbai
PTI Photo

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hold a special hearing on Monday over the Maharashtra government's decision to fell over 2,000 trees in Mumbai's Aarey Colony to build a Metro Rail yard.

The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. The apex court took the decision based on a letter written to Chief Justice of India on Sunday by a group of students with regard to "felling of trees in Aarey forest", registering it as a Public Interest Litigation.

Through the letter, the students requested the CJI to take "cognizance of the Aarey matter for a stay on tree-axing undertaken by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai with Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation and Mumbai Police".

"The present representation is made by a delegation of responsible students who are sorry to disturb you during the vacation but having no other option and in urgency we came to the guardian of constitution valeus expecting relief," the letter reads.

"This letter is for your urgent and kind attention into matter concerning Aarey Forest in Mumbai. We believe that no procedure or technicalities can bar us from coming to Supreme Court, your lordship. (But) By the time an appeal is filed in the Supreme Court, we feel the part of Aarey will be cleared with all trees axed leading to irrevocable loss. As we write this letter to you, the Mumbai authorities continue to kill the lungs of Mumbai by clearing the trees of Aarey forest near Mithi Bank river."

After a huge ruckus by environmentalists protesting tree cutting inside the Aarey Colony, the Mumbai Police on Saturday arrested 29 activists, including six women.

The protests were to oppose the felling of around 2,646 trees and the activists claimed that more than 1,000 trees have already been cut down. The activists intensified their protests after the Bombay High Court on Friday dismissed all petitions regarding the felling of the trees by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (MMRCL) in the green zone to construct a car-shed for the Metro-3 project.

A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dongre also declined to declare Aarey Colony as 'forest' or quash the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Tree Authority's decision permitting the razing of the trees in the green zone for the metro project.

The judges noted that the carbon dioxide sequestration of 2,702 trees for their entire lifetime calculated at 12,79,062 kg would be compensated by 3,948 fully-loaded trips of the metro trains, while dismissing petitions filed by activist Zoru Bhathena and Shiv Sena corporator Yashwant K. Jadhav.

Jadhav was also ordered to pay a fine of Rs 50,000 for his petition against the approval granted by the BMC Tree Authority of which he is a member, while Bhathena had sought to move the Supreme Court in the matter.

On Saturday, Justice S. Dharmadhikari and Justice A. K. Menon rejected a plea, seeking to stay the ongoing tree-felling till the petitioners could move the Supreme Court for further relief.

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