623 Aarey Trees To Be Cut As They Are “Harmful To The Environment”, BMC Tells High Court

The trees in Aarey colony, also known as the green lung of Mumbai, are in danger of being felled. Earlier, MMRDA wanted to cut them to build a casting yard for Metro line 6. However, after massive protests by NGOs and the public, it announced that it will seek land in Wadala for the same. But the ‘Save Aarey’ movement started by Mumbaikars still has a long way to go.

On August 29, the tree authority of Brihamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) granted Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) permission to chop down 2,646 trees – 2,185 to be cut and 461 to be transplanted for the Metro III car shed.

The Hindu reports that under the Maharashtra Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, MMRCL has to wait for 15 days before starting their work. And after this period, has to plant 13,110 trees in the area in lieu of those being cut.

Thousands of Mumbaikars are protesting this move and activist Zoru Bhathena has moved the Bombay High Court with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL). The sad part is that the BMC has replied to court saying felling of 623 subabul trees is completely justified.

According to The Times of India, BMC said that its Tree Authority had conducted several meetings, site visits and also taken into consideration public objections and recommendations by experts. After which they came to the conclusion that,

“The subabul was an exotic tree and was, in fact, harmful to the environment and accordingly subabul trees had been selected for cutting and not transplantation.”

The BMC also stated that after much consideration 55 trees were spared from going under the axe by reworking plans but certain large trees cannot be retained due to the proposed construction.

Furthermore, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis said that the city’s green belt neither comes under bio-diversity nor is a forest. It is the government’s land. Between this and the “harmful trees” rhetoric, when will the authorities realise that development cannot come at the cost of the environment?

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