The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government not to cut any more trees at Aarey Colony in Mumbai and ordered that the status quo be maintained reported ANI. The court took up the case after a group of law students wrote to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, asking him to intervene and stop the cutting of trees for a metro car shed project.
The court asked the petitioners to show documents to prove it was an eco-sensitive zone. “It was a no development zone not an eco-sensitive zone,” said Justice Arun Mishra. “This is what we get, show us the documents.” Earlier, senior counsel Gopal Shankarnarayan, representing some activists, briefed the court on the background and facts of the case and the Aarey area’s eco-sensitive zone tag, reported Bar and Bench.
After the court’s order Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Maharashtra government, assured the bench that no trees will be cut. “What is required to be cut has been cut. No further cutting of trees is required,” said Mehta, according to NDTV.
He had earlier suggested that the case be taken up by the Environment Bench when the court reopens after Dussehra break. “There is nothing more to be cut now and SC later can decide on the legality or illegality of the trees cut,” he added.
The top court also asked if all people arrested or detained for protesting against the tree cutting have been released. “If they have not been released, release them immediately on furnishing personal bond,” the court said.
The matter will be taken up next by the Forest Bench of the Supreme Court on October 21, reported Bar and Bench.
The Bombay High Court had on Friday rejected petitions against the tree felling, after which protests had begun. The police charged at protestors with batons even as many demonstrators had camped outside Aarey through the night. The police had also stopped people from entering the area.
The police also arrested 29 persons among 60 who had been detained. However, the arrested individuals were released on a bail bond of Rs 7,000 each on Sunday. “They have been granted conditional bail on a cash bond of Rs 7,000 each,” advocate Aditya Bambulkar, who appeared for the accused, said. “The conditions of the bail also require them to appear at the police station for inquiries.”
Earlier on Sunday, the police detained Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi leader Prakash Ambedkar at the protest site and took him to the Powai Police Station.
Several Bollywood celebrities have tweeted against the plan to cut trees. However, it went ahead, and over 1,500 trees were cut in a single day. Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation chief Ashwini Bhide, however, said the tree-felling was “destruction that is inevitable”.
The Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress have all criticised the felling exercise and blamed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state. Mumbai Metro Line 3, meanwhile, claimed that it had planted 24,000 trees around Mumbai as compensation for cutting the trees.
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