MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday admitted four petitions pertaining to the status of Aarey land as forest and directed the authorities not to cut any of the trees at till the petitions are heard on September 30.
The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has already given permission to the Mumbai Metro rail Corporation Ltd. (MMRCL) to cut down 2,646 trees to be able to build the Metro depot.
The Bombay High Court bench comprising of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharti Dange also said that they plan to personally visit the Aarey area in order to have a look into the issue.
Only four of the 12 petitions were admitted by the court as they were related to the crux of the matter, said activist Zoru Bhathena, who is spearheading the agitation of locals who are opposing the Metro depot at the Aarey land. They have claimed that the land is a forest, while the state government has stated that it is the government land.
The petitions admitted today pertain to whether the Aarey land is a forest, whether it is a flood plain of Mithi river and pertaining to the decision of the tree authority to permit cutting of trees.
While the state government is trying its best to push ahead with its plan to have the Metro depot at the Aarey land, the support to locals is increasing.
Former Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh visited the site of the proposed Metro depot on Tuesday, praised Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aditya Thackeray for their pro-environment stand over the issue. The Thackerays have already made clear their reservations over the proposal, making it a BJP versus all fight.
According to the government, the land in dispute is a government land handed over to Aarey to meet their need for grassland for cattle at the dairy.
MMRCL chief Ashwini Bhide had also said that all other options have already been evaluated and the project, which is very crucial for Mumbai, won’t be able to progress if the land is not utilised for the Metro depot.