The Bombay High Court on Friday restrained the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited from felling 177 trees in the city’s Aarey forests till it seeks clarification from the Supreme Court on its order on the matter, reported Bar and Bench.

The High Court was hearing a plea challenging an order by the civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation allowing the felling of 177 trees at Mumbai’s Aarey Colony for construction of a car shed for the Mumbai Metro.

The petitioner had argued that the civic body gave permission to cut down 177 trees citing a Supreme Court order which had given directions for felling of only 84 trees. The Supreme Court had given the permission after the metro rail authorities contended that it needs to cut the trees for construction of ramps at the metro car shed.

At Saturday’s hearing, a division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep Marne directed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited to approach the Supreme Court to seek clarification on its order. The judges directed the metro rail authorities not to cut down any trees till the Supreme Court gives clarification.

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited has already felled 2,144 trees at Aarey for the construction of the car shed and 212 more for the ramps leading to it, reported Live Law.

Several local residents, environmental activists, and students have protested against the felling of trees at the Aarey forest since it is considered the last remaining green lung of Mumbai.

In October 2019, a group of law students had written to Ranjan Gogoi, who was then the chief justice of India, asking him to intervene and stop the cutting of trees at Aarey Colony. The Supreme Courthad then ordered a status quo on the metro rail project.

In November 2019, the Maharashtra government, led by Uddhav Thackeray, had stopped work on the Aarey car shed. On October 11, 2020, Thackeray had announced that 800 acres of land in the Aarey Colony would be declared a reserve forest and that the car shed for the metro project in the area would be relocated to Kanjurmarg.

However, after Eknath Shinde took over as the new chief minister of Maharashtra in July, heoverturned Thackeray’s decision to shift the Metro-3 car shed out of the Aarey Colony.