AAREY TREE FELLING CASE SC TAKES SUO MOTO

JAHNVI SRIVASTAVA 

AAREY TREE FELLING CASE SC TAKES SUO MOTO

BACKGROUND


Soon after the judgement of the Bombay High Court to dismiss the petitions against the proposed asking for over 2,500 and more trees to cut down in Mumbai in the Aarey Colony, the officials nearly cut down 1,500 trees which led to a huge protest against the distortion of trees by the people in the city. Aarey tree felling case SC takes suo moto.

There were very prominent reasons for the protest to be carried out which are as follows:

  • The aim of cutting down the trees was to clear the route for the construction of metro due to which a heated argument aroused between the people who were trying to save the trees from being cut down and the Mumbai police. 
  • Even after the protest was going on the trees were being cut down and as a result of this, the activists decided to go to Bombay High Court for the relief. They also wanted the court to order to stay so that they can go the supreme Court against the order passed by BMC(Bhiranmumbai Municipal Corporation) tree authority. 
  • The activists laid down the problem that they will file their appeal in the Supreme Court but in the meantime, no action can be taken and the officials will succeed in cutting down the trees by MMRCL( Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited). 
  • The former Mumbai Congress chief and the senior leader of Congress Mr Sanjay Nirupam also went to protect the trees and was a part of the protest was against and criticized the decision made by BMC trees authority to cut down the trees in the night. The protest also got support from Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar. 
  • Aarey is the home for Adivasis (Warli tribe) and they have been living there for more than 27 years from generations. They are dependent upon the tress as they are the only means to fulfil their basic necessities, hence they are totally against the construction of an underground metro project. Hence they also joined the protest to come forward to demand for their rights and their traditional land also, the want Forest Right Act of 2006 to be implemented. 

AAREY TREE FELLING CASE SC TAKES SUO MOTO

CURRENT ISSUE (AAREY TREE FELLING CASE SC TAKES SUO MOTO)


On 4th October the High Court of Bombay laid down that Aarey will not be declared as forest and in line also refused to put a stay upon the Mumbai Municipal Corporation thereby allowing to continue felling of 2,600 trees for metro construction.

Then it was on Sunday, 6th October when the Supreme Court decided to register the letter posted by the students as PIL which was addressed to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi for stay on cutting trees by a law student Rishav Ranjan, stating that “As we write this letter to you Mumbai authorities continue to kill the lungs of Mumbai i.e Aarey forest by clearing of trees near Mithi river bank and according to news reports 1,500 trees have already been cleared by authorities.”

“Not only this but our friends are put in jail who were peacefully organising a vigil against acts of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) with Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) at the site.”29 students were arrested during the protest.

The students requested the apex court to decide the case ignoring the technicalities as there was no time to file a proper appeal in the court. They also alleged that many of the protesting students have been arrested under the IPC unlawfully for the charge of assault on the public servant and preventing him to perform the obligations of his duty. The Mumbai police latter under Criminal Procedural Code imposed section 144 so that any gathering of people could be prevented.

Then a notice was uploaded on the Supreme Court website that there will be an urgent hearing on the Aarey case by the specially constituted bench.

The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta is representing the state of Maharashtra. He argued that he was not aware of the facts and assured the bench that untill the case is decided no further destruction will be there by cutting of trees. The PIL from the petitioner’s side laid down that the Aarey was declared as unclassified forest and also the felling of the trees was illegal by the state government. However, after referring to the notice by the Maharashtra government, it was held by the bench that the Aarey land is neither an eco-sensitive zone nor a developmental zone as it has been claimed by the petitioners.

At the time of hearing the Maharashtra government also laid down that all those who have been arrested during the ambit of protest were all released.  The bench also laid that if anyone is still not released should immediately get released on grounds of a personal bond.

Afterwards, it was on Monday i.e. on 7th October when the apex court prevented the Municipal Corporation from further cutting of trees.

The special bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Arun Mishra stated that there are more facts to be considered and looked upon for proper examination of the facts and then announced the next date for case hearing i.e. on 21st October, Monday.

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AAREY TREE FELLING CASE SC TAKES SUO MOTO

CONCLUSION


Local public of Mumbai city, college and school students, tribes of affected areas and even the Bollywood actors are of the view that Aarey should and must be protected from cutting down of trees. All hold the view that green spaces in Mumbai are lacking, there is very less access to open a result like parks, clean air, shades etc. If the destruction is continued at the same pace there will be no sustainable future. The deforestation would further have a negative impact on air, land and water pollution damaging the ecosystem.

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