On October 4, the Bombay High Court dismissed all petitions against the felling of over 2,500 trees in Aarey for a metro depot. And the authorities completed the deed in the middle of the night. When activists protested, 29 of them were arrested following the imposition of Section 144 of the IPC.
We are expediting our extinction!
In a city prone to floods during monsoon rains and at a time when #ClimateStrike has captured global narrative, it is painful to see 2646 trees being cut in #AareyForest, considered Mumbai's green lung and home to 30 tribal villages.#SaveAarey pic.twitter.com/IJxjIglrAm
— Anupam | अनुपम (@AnupamConnects) October 4, 2019
This prompted Rishav Ranjan, a law student of Lloyd Law College, Noida, to write a letter to CJI Ranjan Gogoi on behalf of all the student protesters. According to NDTV, the letter was treated as a petition by the Supreme Court currently shut for Dussehra break. A Special Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Ashok Bhushan heard the case today.
Business Standard reports that the bench ordered the State of Maharashtra not to cut any more trees in Aarey till the next hearing by the Forest Bench on October 21. In addition, all activists in custody had to be released by the Mumbai Police.
The SC said, “It appears to us that it was some kind of forest at some time. If legally it can’t be done, it can’t be done by you.”
We are delighted and thankful to the Hon'ble SC who took cognizance in this matter and ordered stay on the acts of municipal authorities.
Hon'ble SC has put stay on clearing of trees and ordered to 'maintain status-quo' in Aarey Forest. #SaveAarey
— Rishav Ranjan (@rishav_ranjan18) October 7, 2019
According to News18, the court also questioned the state government on Mumbai Metro’s claims that 24,000 saplings had been planted to replace the felled trees.
“Tell us how many saplings you planted. How have they grown? What’s the status of your forests?”
While the interim stay on felling of trees came as a relief to everyone, people couldn’t help but wonder if the order came too late. Many argued that the damage had already been done with over 2000 trees axed in Mumbai’s green lung.
“Operation Successful -Patient Dead” Sum & Substance of today’s Supreme Court hearing on #Aarey
— Jaiveer Shergill (@JaiveerShergill) October 7, 2019
— Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) October 7, 2019
The Aarey Activist and protestors lost today irrespective of the stay order and any future decision by the SC. This statement by the Solicitor General is the answer to why trees were chopped down in the middle of the night.#AareyForest #AareyKillerDevendra https://t.co/UE5is7lOwI
— Rohit Kumar Singh ⚡️ (@ks_rohit10) October 7, 2019
SC directive on Aarey forest is a great victory for protesters. But the govt says whatever trees were to be cut has already cut. #AareyForest
— Rabi Das (@RabiDasOdisha) October 7, 2019
— Asheem PK (@peekeymon) October 7, 2019
Ma'am damage is already done by cutting trees. Authorities have taken fast action during Court holidays.
— CA Ramchandra Mahuli (@rammahuli) October 7, 2019
The Times of India reports that the bail amount of Rs.7000 each the 29 detained protesters had to pay has been raised by a group named “Our Democracy”. The Rs.2.3 lakhs raised via online crowdfunding will be handed over to the families of protesters to facilitate their release.