NEW DELHI: Hitting out at the government over the Aarey Forest row, Congress on Saturday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiatives on environment protection were a 'crowd pleaser' for the global audience.
"So much for being a crusader for the environment. PM Modi's empty rhetoric on protecting nature was just a crowd pleaser for global audiences, back home his govt's actions are wildly different. #AareyForest," Congress party tweeted.
Protests erupted on Friday at Mumbai's Aarey forest area after the Bombay High Court dismissed all petitions against the proposed cutting down of over 2,500 trees to make way for a metro car shed in the area- a green strip that lies at the heart of the bustling Mumbai city.
Congress leader and party's former Mumbai unit president Sanjay Nirupam alleged that the government is cutting trees by invoking Section 144 near Aarey site.
"It is sad and funny. The government is cutting trees by invoking section 144 in #Arey. The High Court order came yesterday and the metro people started cutting trees overnight. What are the reasons for such ruthlessness and haste? Activists wanted to appeal to the Supreme Court. Would have given them some time. #SaveAarey," he tweeted.
Actually its #BMC which has permitted #MMRCL to cut trees in #AareyForest and I would like to remind everyone that #BMC is controlled by ShivSena.— Sanjay Nirupam (@sanjaynirupam) October 5, 2019
So #ShivSena must stop its lip service against tree cutting in #Aarey & tell Mumbaikars that they are helpless before #BJP pic.twitter.com/hl2Ofvt92B
BJP alliance partner Shiv Sena also attacked Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for backing the metro shed.
Sanjay Raut, the senior Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha lawmaker, on Saturday posted a cartoon on Twitter in which the BJP leader is blindfolding Lady Justice with a strip of cloth that reads, "Arey not a forest."
Party chief Uddhav Thackeray's son and Aaditya Thackeray urged the Mumbai Metro authorities to listen to sensible demands of sustainable development.
"A project that should be executed with pride, the Metro 3, @MumbaiMetro3 has to do it in the cover of the night, with shame, slyness and heavy cop cover. The project supposed to get Mumbai clean air, is hacking down a forest with a leopard, rusty spotted cat and more," he tweeted.
"The ShivSena's sheetalmhatre1 ji & Shubha Raul ji at Aarey. Even Prabhu Suneel ji has been standing up for it with the citizens. Wonder why MumbaiMetro3 is treating Mumbaikars like criminals and not listening to sensible demand of sustainable development," Thackeray said in another tweet.
Earlier, Fadnavis had said that the government is bound to cut trees in Mumbai's Aarey forest as "development is important".
"We do not wish to cut even a single tree in Aarey, but the development is also important. We will plant more trees in place of those cut. I will personally speak to Aditya Thackeray about this," he said.
Meanwhile, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC imposed near the metro-rail project site in Aarey forest, prohibiting the assembly of four or more people.
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi was detained by Mumbai Police during protests on Saturday morning.
"On my way to #aarey and main entry points to the site have been blocked by Mumbai Police! #SaveAarey," she tweeted.
"I have been forcibly evicted by the cops and I wasn't even breaking the law! The cops in the car wont even tell me where I am being taken ... this is insane @MumbaiPolice," Chaturvedi said in a second tweet.
Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation has announced its plan to cut down over 2,700 trees from Aarey colony in order to build a car shed for the Metro. The colony, spread over 13,000 hectares, is home to over 27 Adivasi villages and inhabits various animal species.
Scores of locals including environmental activists have been opposing the cutting of trees for the construction of the car shed of the metro station. They are demanding the relocation of the bus depot, which is a part of the Metro III project.
Several B-town actors and political leaders have also extended their support to activists by participating in the protests against the cutting of trees.
However, actors like Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar have supported the Metro project.