Aarey tree felling: What does ‘status quo’ mean?

MMRCL claims ruling is only with respect to cutting of trees; other work, including clearing of already felled trees, will continue at the site; activists claim stumps cannot be removed

Mumbai: While the Maharashtra government has been asked by the apex court to maintain the ‘status quo’ until the next hearing, the MMCRL has not been restrained from undertaking work on the car shed site, which has already been cleared.

MMCRL is interpreting the court order to imply that the "status quo (is) to be maintained only with respect to cutting of trees." The corporation issued a press statement after the court order which reads, “We respect the order. No future tree felling activity at the car shed site in Aarey Milk Colony will be undertaken.

Other works, including clearing of already felled trees, will continue at the site." Elaborating, an MMRCL spokesperson said, “As on date, 2,141 trees have been felled. These will be cleared from the site and subsequent construction activities will be carried out."

However, the activists are adamant that the authorities cannot do anything at the site. "They have managed to kill trees but what about the stumps? They have not uprooted the stumps," Aarey crusader Zoru Bhathena said.

"In order to continue with their construction work, the authorities will have to uproot the stumps, which is not possible. The order specifically says maintain status quo. Hence no work of any kind," Bhathena claimed.

ALL TREES NOT CUT: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the apex court on Monday that "the MMRCL has cut all the requisite trees." However, according to crusader Bhathena, the statement is misleading.

"The statement made by the SG is false and has not been taken on record. It has been disseminated on social media only to ensure that people get frustrated and do not visit the site," Bhathena said. "They haven't cut the required number of trees but managed to kill a few hundred,’’ Bhathena further claimed.

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