The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the cutting of Aarey trees and asked the Maharashtra government to stop any more cutting of trees. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, according to Livelaw website, told the top court that whatever had ‘to be cut is cut’ adding that there wouldn’t be further cutting of trees in Aarey Colony. The court will hear the matter again on 21 October.
This was after the apex court took cognisance of a letter written by one student, Rishav Ranjan, to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, over the felling of trees in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony. A Special Bench of the Supreme Court will hear the matter today.
A notice by the vacation officer of the Supreme Court read, “Take note that a special Bench has been constituted to hear the matter tomorrow i.e. 7th October 2019 at 10 AM. On the basis of a letter dated 6th October 2019 addressed by Shri Rishav Ranjan with regards to felling of trees in Aarey forests, state of Maharashtra, which has been registered as a Public Interest Litigation.”
Last week, the felling of trees had started around midnight after the Bombay High Court dismissed all petitions challenging the Tree Authority’s decision to cut 2646 trees in Aarey Colony, considered to be the lungs of Mumbai for its greenery. The state’s BJP government wants to cut these trees to make way for the planned Metro car shed project.
In an extraordinary development, the authorities cut more than 300 trees in a single day, evoking widespread outrage from activists, mostly young students. According to one estimate, the authorities have already cut around 1500 trees so far.
On Sunday, Mumbai Metro chief Ashwini Bhide sensationally justified the felling of trees saying that ‘sometimes to construct something new destruction becomes inevitable but it also paves the way for new life and new creation.’
The Mumbai Police also came under huge condemnation for arresting 29 activists who gathered around Aarey Colony protesting the felling of trees. The student’s letter to CJI Gogoi makes a reference to the arrests of 29 activists by the Mumbai Police.
The Shiv Sena, which is a part of Maharashtra’s BJP-led government, has also opposed the decision to cut trees in Aarey.