Aarey Protest LIVE: A Mumbai court on Saturday rejected the bail application filed by 29 activists who were arrested for protesting the felling of trees in north Mumbai’s Aarey Colony. The activists have been sent to judicial custody till Monday. Till now, 38 people have been arrested and 55 people have been detained by the police.
The Bombay High Court, meanwhile, rejected a fresh plea filed by activists for a stay on felling of trees in Aarey, a day after the HC gave its nod to the cutting down of Mumbai’s ‘green lung’ despite vociferous protests.
Section 144 was imposed and roads leading to Aarey blocked as protesters escalated their fight, a day after the court gave its nod to the felling of over 2,500 trees for the Metro project.
On Friday, the high court refused to recognise Aarey as a forest, allowing the authorities to cut down trees for construction of a shed for the Mumbai Metro. The authorities soon complied, with activists complaining that about 200 trees were cut down in a late-night operation.
The Aarey battle soon took a political turn as not only the Opposition, but BJP’s Maharashtra ally Shiv Sena also attacked the government for the decision. Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi was among those detained by the police. Reacting to the development, party chief Uddhav Thackeray said: “Our government is going to come to power soon and we will see what to do about these murderers of trees."
His son and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, who has decided to take the political plunge in the upcoming Maharashtra elections on October 21, also slammed the move and said: “The vigour with which the @MumbaiMetro3 is slyly and swiftly cutting down an ecosystem in Aarey is shameful and disgusting. How about posting these officials in PoK, giving them charge to destroy terror camps rather than trees?"
Amid the furore, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar drew parallels between Delhi and Mumbai. “The Bombay High Court has ruled that Aarey is not a forest. When the first Delhi metro station was to be constructed, 20-25 trees were cut. People had protested then too, but for each tree cut, five trees were planted."
The Aarey colony, measuring 1,287 hectares and located adjoining the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, is known as a major green lung of the metropolis. Several Bollywood personalities and politicians had also extended their support to the activists protesting against the feeling of trees in Aarey.
On September 20, the Maharashtra government had told the court that Aarey cannot be declared a forest just because of its greenery.
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited had argued in court that the project was of paramount importance for the city. “Every day 10 persons die due to overcrowding in local suburban trains. The Metro project will ease the pressure from the trains," MMRCL counsel Ashutosh Kumbhakoni had said.