Bombay High Court refuses to declare Aarey a forest, dismisses petitions against felling of 2,600 trees

The division bench dismissed a plea by the city-based NGO Vanshakti to declare Aarey Colony a forest area.

Published: 04th October 2019 12:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th October 2019 11:48 PM   |  A+A-

Children protest against the proposed metro project in Mumbai's Aarey Colony which will involve felling of trees. (Photo | Aarey Forest Twitter)

Children protest against the proposed metro project in Mumbai's Aarey Colony which will involve felling of trees. (Photo | Aarey Forest Twitter)

By Express News Service

MUMBAI: In a major reprieve for the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) the Bombay High Court on Friday dismissed all pleas against felling of over 2,600 trees and demanding Aarey to be declared a forest land thereby clearing the ground for Metro depot at the place.

“The greens (environmentalists) have failed,” said the division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre, that was hearing petitions challenging the order given by the BMC’s Tree Authority to axe 2,646 trees and to declare Aarey land a forest.

“The greens fail in the instant petition because they have lost touch with the procedure to be followed as per law. The clock cannot be put back. We do not make any comments thereon as the petitioner has to now swim or sink before the Supreme Court. The issue is pending before the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal. Hence, we are dismissing the petition on the principle of commonality and not on merits,” said the judges.

The court called all the petitioners “Davids” taking on the industrial “Goliaths”, apparently suggesting that they are fighting an unequal battle.

“Relationship with nature and love for environment alone is true and all other relationships are unreal and temporary, is their (environmentalists) belief. Their hearts are a temple of devotion to flora and fauna,” the court said.

“In the instant case, the Davids (environmentalists) row their boat with faith, courage and devotion in the storm of development but directionless,” the bench said in its judgment.

The court also imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on Shiv Sena’s corporator Yeshwant Jadhav, a member of the Tree Authority for moving the High Court.

Environmental activist Zoru Bathena, who filed the petition, said he will approach the Supreme Court.

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