Several Bollywood film actors voiced their criticism against the decision to cut trees in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony area on Saturday. At least 29 people were arrested late on Friday in connection with protests against the authorities’ move, even as the Bombay High Court dismissed a second petition to stop the exercise.
Protestors had started demonstrating against the authorities’ move to start cutting trees in the area on Friday night to clear the space for a metro car shed, hours after the Bombay High Court rejected petitions against it. The police charged at protestors with batons even as many demonstrators camped outside Aarey through the night.
Bollywood actor Swara Bhasker on Saturday said the cutting of trees in Aarey was “about greed, hubris and foolishness” and called for protests against it. “The fact is that alternative spaces for the carshed exist, have been okayed by experts,” she tweeted. “Protest against colossal stupidity and this damaging decision.”
“We have to be stewards of our world treating the planet with respect,” tweeted actor Madhuri Dixit. “Mumbai has few parks for our children, few forests for our wildlife. There has to be another way than cutting the trees in Aarey.” She added that there was a need to come together to protect the planet and Aarey.
Filmmaker Karan Johar described the cutting of trees as a “massacre”. “We are our own worst enemy!” he tweeted. “Infrastructure can never precede nature! We need to stop!”
Actor Varun Dhavan said the authorities’ decision was “heartbreaking” and questioned why it was allowed even after public protests. “With such an outcry to stop the cutting of trees why is this being allowed Mumbai has done enough for the people in power to realise cutting down Aarey is something the citizens don’t want,” he tweeted.
“There’s always been a conflict between development and conservation,” tweeted actor Alia Bhatt. “Yes, the city needs to build infrastructure to support a growing population. But the city also needs trees and parks and greenery. We need to protect nature like life depends on it. Because it does.” Actor Ileana D’Cruz described the decision to chop off the trees as “awful news”.
Actor Sidharth Malhotra said: “The ecological imbalance this can cause is beyond control and it must stop. I urge the authorities to help Save Aarey if not for us, for our future generations.”
Filmmaker Pooja Bhatt said in a “fair, ethical, just and humane world” the state authorities would protect the trees. “Alas, this is the world we live in,” she tweeted. “One without a moral compass and conscience. God help us all!”
“Cutting trees at night is a pathetic attempt at trying to get away with something even those doing it know is wrong,” tweeted filmmaker and actor Farhan Akhtar.
Last month, protestors had camped outside actor Amitabh Bachchan’s bungalow in the city’s Juhu locality after Bachchan tweeted in support of the metro project.
Meanwhile, the 29 people arrested in Mumbai in connection with protests against authorities’ move to cut trees in the city’s Aarey Colony area got bail on Sunday evening, The Hindu reported. “They have been granted conditional bail on a cash bond of Rs 7,000 each,” advocate Aditya Bambulkar said. “The conditions of the bail also requite them to appear at the police station for inquiries.”
Earlier on Saturday, the police had also detained Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi leader Prakash Ambedkar at the protest site and took him to Powai police station.
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