Days after the Maharashtra state government and MMRDA decided to clear Mumbai’s green lungs for constructing a depot for Mumbai metro at Aarey, the city saw a huge number of protestors including several Bollywood celebs protesting the move. The massive public outrage and multiple petitions did force the authorities to move the metro casting yard to land in Wadala.
The tree authority of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) however later 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.
Amidst all this, a new development has seen the light of the day, which is certainly not a good one for the forest crusaders. In a major setback, the Bombay High Court on Friday dismissed all petitions against the felling of over 2,500 trees for a Mumbai metro depot. Following the high court’s order, authorities were quick to act on the order and began cutting trees late last night. However, this did not go unnoticed.
Breaking now: tree cutting begins in Aarey barely hours after Bombay high court verdict in tha dead of the night. Wish officials showed same alacrity in cutting down corruption as they do with trees!
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) October 4, 2019
Several people managed to enter the proposed site of the metro depot.
What is the Police trying to hide?! AAP and Aarey volunteers protesting peacefully outside. 'Aarey Vaachva' cries in the air
— Ruben Mascarenhas (@rubenmasc) October 4, 2019
According to News 18, around 200 protestors, activists and locals protesting the felling of trees were also detained. The Mumbai Police have also reportedly imposed section 144 of the CrPC at Aarey Colony and blocked all roads into the colony. As many as 25 protestors were arrested following the imposition of Section 144 of the IPC. However, activists have been claiming that the felling of trees was illegal as the proper procedure was not followed.
Trees are being illegally cut at Aarey on Metro Depot plot
No tree can be cut for 15 days from permission
Permission has been uploaded on 04.10.19 at 4pm on MCGM website.
Kindly stop this illegal act & book the illegal tree cutters pic.twitter.com/YzlsNqIDT9
— Zoru Bhathena (@zoru75) October 4, 2019
Protesters also claimed that trees can be cut only after 15 days of uploading permission to cut them. They also alleged that at least 1,000 trees were chopped by the end of the day.
There is supposed to be a 15 day waiting period after permission is granted and notice has been uploaded on official website. But there is no waiting here. Our trees are being cut as citizens desperately plead to STOP this! @moefcc @PrakashJavdekar #Aarey https://t.co/nmVP7WllI7
— Dia Mirza (@deespeak) October 4, 2019
If we don’t want to see this day!
Stay Put & Stand Still!
Trees cannot be cut for 15days from the day of uploading of permission of MCGM which hasn’t been uploaded yet.
— Shuddha Jain (@Shuddhajain) October 4, 2019
Responding to the allegations, Managing Director of Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited Ashwini Bhide said it’s a new false propaganda.
A new false propoganda is in the air that 15 days notice is required after tree authority order getting uploaded on website. This is absolutely baseless. Tree Authority order is issued on 13th Sept 19. 15 days r over on 28th Sept. Action awaited till Hon HC verdict was out.
— Ashwini Bhide (@AshwiniBhide) October 4, 2019
Several activists, politicians and celebs took to Twitter to share their disappointment on the felling of trees:
There’s no point for the Central government ministry of climate change to exist, or to speak about plastic pollution when the @MumbaiMetro3 senselessly destroys the Aarey vicinity. This ego battle taken up by Metro 3 is destroying the purpose of making it.
— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) October 4, 2019
In the cover of darkness the axe falls on our trees . RIP #AareyForest … we failed you . My heart breaks to know that by morning many proud erect trees will have fallen to human greed . pic.twitter.com/VJdnRl7o6c
— Onir (@IamOnir) October 4, 2019
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We stand against the illegal cutting down of trees at #Aarey in the dead of night. The BMC tree authority had put a 15-day wait period. Women are being manhandled & illegally detained.Cops are also threatening a lathi charge against the brave citizens who have gathered in protest pic.twitter.com/iXz0jurbp0
— Prakash Ambedkar (@Prksh_Ambedkar) October 4, 2019
Such a disappointing news on #AareyForest Cutting the trees in the night clearly shows even they know it’s horribly wrong,inhuman. But we can compliment #GretaThunberg act blind n deaf to our own #Aarey n think we did our bit to the #environment https://t.co/Tb0NyBbZPn
— Urmila Matondkar (@UrmilaMatondkar) October 5, 2019
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) October 4, 2019
Please make one call and get this stopped, at least until the SC has a chance to review the… https://t.co/TDdh8cr8ho
— VISHAL DADLANI (@VishalDadlani) October 4, 2019
What is the hurry? Who do you want to appease before polls? pic.twitter.com/3HGemwXkb8
— Kanchan Srivastava (@Ms_Aflatoon) October 5, 2019
Dear Fellow Indians
This is not just about 2000 odd trees in #AareyForest in Mumbai. This is about you wherever you are.
This is the BJP. They destroyed trees in the middle of the night and have arrested protesters.
Did you vote for bullies and fear in your lives? Think!!
— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) October 5, 2019
Mumbai will never forgive BJP-Shiv Sena for carrying out the destruction of its green lung. Our future generations will pay the price for this callous & reckless act by the @Dev_Fadnavis govt! This is greed disguised as development!#AareyForesthttps://t.co/sXupGJ2EjV
— Shama Mohamed (@drshamamohd) October 5, 2019
Being ethical means the Maharashtra govt allow the #SupremeCourt to give a final ruling on the #AareyForest ! But this is the rule of @narendramodi /RSS , so cut down the #Aarey trees in the middle of the night, making it impossible for birds & animals to escape#AareyForest
— Tehseen Poonawalla Official (@tehseenp) October 5, 2019
Jallianwala bagh types massacre at #Aarey .. congratulations Mumbaikars. . Lungs Of city have been started to get slashed .. thank you @ShivSena & @BJP4India .. #blackdayAarey #AareyForest pic.twitter.com/yRdmfiraNM
— Niraj Bhatia (@bhatia_niraj23) October 4, 2019
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
Over 300 out of the proposed 2646 trees hacked to death in #AareyForest. In most cases 'Development' happens at the expense of Environmental degradation.Can we afford such a 'development'
We have killed the Mithi River in Mumbai & River Yamuna is already on the deathbed in Delhi
— Rachit Seth (@rachitseth) October 5, 2019
Amidst the various environmental crisis that the country is facing today, it is sad that the authorities are turning a blind eye to them and furthering deforestation.