Mumbai Metro: Human chain formed, to protest against tree-cutting

Environmental activists formed a human chain at Marine Drive in south Mumbai, to protest against the tree-cutting in the city, for the ongoing metro rail construction

Wildlife conservation activists, students and representatives of those displaced because of various development projects, were among those who took part in a human chain, which extended for almost a kilometre on Marine Drive, on March 30, 2019, to protest against tree-felling for the various metro rail projects in Mumbai. They also demanded that political parties include environmental issues, in their manifestos for the Lok Sabha elections.

See also: Mumbai Metro network to be expanded to 276 kms: Maharashtra finance minister

“This chain is the city’s way of declaring that its citizens will not vote for any party that does not address environmental concerns, in its manifesto for Lok Sabha elections,” said Amrita Bhattacharjee, a senior member of the Aarey Conservation Group (ACG). “We want to save the only green lungs of the city,” Bhattacharjee said, referring to Aarey Colony in north Mumbai. “Why only Mumbai city, environment-related issues in the entire country should be addressed with top priority,” Bhattacharjee said.

The ACG is agitating to protect the green cover in Aarey Colony, where around 2,700 trees are to be cut, to make way for a car-shed for the Mumbai Metro. Trees are being chopped down arbitrarily for the metro and activists are not allowed to be present when the trees are cut, Bhattacharjee said. Advocate Abhishek Bhatt, another activist, said, “Measures for protection of the ecology do not feature in any political agenda across the country.” Tribals and kolis (fishermen), the original inhabitants of Mumbai, were being driven out from their lands for so-called development, the activists said in a statement.

Mumbai Metro told to file affidavit, on felling of trees for Aarey car shed

The Bombay HC has directed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation to file an affidavit, stating that it would not cut any tree without taking prior permission and also submit a schedule of the work it plans to undertake, in Aarey Colony

October 4, 2018: The Bombay High Court, on October 3, 2018, directed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) to file an affidavit, stating that it was cutting only those trees at suburban Aarey Colony, for which it has permission. A division bench of acting chief justice NH Patil and justice GS Kulkarni, was hearing a petition filed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders Preeti Menon and Ruben Mascarenhas, against the MMRCL’s ‘indiscriminate’ felling of trees inside the Aarey Colony, to pave way for a metro car shed.

See also: Bombay HC reserves order on Aarey Colony Metro 3 car shed

Advocate Kiran Bagaria, appearing for the MMRCL, told the court that only those trees are being cut, for which permissions have already been sought. “We will not cut any tree without taking prior permission from the concerned authorities,” said Bagaria.

The bench directed the MMRCL to file an affidavit in two weeks, stating so and also submit a schedule of the work it plans to undertake in Aarey Colony, for the construction of the metro car shed. The court, however, refused to pass an order granting an interim relief to the petitioners by staying the cutting of trees, pending hearing of the plea.

In the petition, Menon claimed that she learnt about trees being felled on the Aarey-Marol Road on September 29. “It was seen that more than 100 huge trees were cut and many more were being surveyed.

It is the estimation of the petitioner that almost 400 or more full-grown trees are slated for chopping,” the petition said. It claimed that MMRCL’s act was reckless and was causing permanent damage to the environment.