Supreme Court To Hear Aarey Tree-Felling Matter At 10:00 AM On Monday
The Supreme Court of India has constituted a special vacation bench to hear as a public interest litigation the case of felling of trees in Aarey Colony area of Mumbai.
The apex court took suo motu cognizance of the matter after students approached Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
"Take notice that a special bench has been constituted to hear the matter tomorrow i.e. 7th October, 2019 at 10:00 am on the basis of a letter dated 6th October, 2019 addressed by Shri Rishav Ranjan with regard to felling of trees in Aarey forest, State of Maharashtra, which has been registered as a public interest litigation," stated a notice signed by the Supreme Court's vacation officer on Sunday.
The court will hear the case at 10:00 am on Monday.
Prohibitory orders continued to be in force in Aarey Colony and surrounding areas for the second day on Sunday, as felling of trees was underway to make way for a Mumbai Metro car shed, a police official said.
Heavy security was deployed at Aarey Colony’s five entry points, including the key connecting road near the Western Express Highway, to prevent people from going towards the area and to avoid any untoward incident, he said.
Most of the shops, restaurants and roadside stalls remained closed in the area in view of the imposition of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, banning unlawful assembly, since Saturday.
The police official said the situation was expected to become normal soon.
Patrolling was stepped up in the tribal hamlets located in Aarey area and those found assembling there were being taken into custody, but later let off after proper verification, he said.
On Saturday, clashes broke out between the police and green activists who tried to stop tree-cutting by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. in Aarey Colony, leading to arrest of at least 29 people.
The MMRCL started hacking trees from Friday night to make way for the car shed, hours after the Bombay High Court dismissed four petitions filed by NGOs and activists challenging the decision to allow felling of nearly 2,700 trees in the prime green lung of the city.
“Several trees in the area have been cut and security has been tightened,” the police official said. He said that Section 144 of the CrPC will remain imposed in the area till the completion of cutting of the prescribed number of trees.
Several senior police officials are on “bandobast duty”, he added.
Earlier, opposition parties slammed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena, stating they failed to save the trees. Yuva Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray also criticised MMRCL and backed the protesters.
MMRCL has defended tree felling by contending that it is restricted only to a small area in Aarey, and is necessary to ensure a modern transport system for Mumbaikars. The proposed car shed for the Mumbai Metro-3 line (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) will occupy 33 hectares.
Dalit Leader Prakash Ambedkar Detained
Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar was on Sunday detained briefly when he tried to enter the Aarey Colony in support of the activists who are opposing the cutting of trees in the area. He alleged that Maharashtra government was using “muscle power” to silence those raising voice against tree felling.
Later, after being let off, he told reporters, “The green cover at Aarey Colony helps in the purification of air, the same way as fresh breeze coming from the Arabian Sea helps in keeping Mumbai air clean.”
“We were told that some 700 trees have been axed. We will continue to oppose the tree felling in all forms, even if we fail to come to power in the state after the upcoming Assembly elections,” he said.
Aarey Protests: Conditional Bail for 29 Protesters
A sessions court in Mumbai on Sunday granted bail to 29 protesters arrested over the last two days on charges of allegedly obstructing and assaulting police personnel on duty during protests against felling of trees at Aarey Colony.
Additional Sessions Court Judge HC Shende ordered their release on certain conditions including production of personal surety of Rs 7,000 and assurance that they would not take part in protests.
However, the protesters are unlikely to walk out of the Thane jail, where most of them are currently lodged, on Sunday pending completion of the legal procedure and other formalities.
The arrests were made over Friday night and Saturday after clashes broke out between the police and green activists opposing axing of trees by MMRCL in Aarey Colony.