SC agrees to hear plea against tree cutting in Aarey colony on Friday

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The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to examine a plea against the cutting of trees in Mumbai’s Aarey colony for a Metro car shed.

Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan mentioned the matter before a bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant, submitting that cutting of trees is going on overnight despite the stay order, which was issued earlier. The bench agreed to take up the matter.

Sankaranarayanan submitted that they have photographs and Chief Justice N.V. Ramana said the matter will be heard by this bench. Seeking urgent listing of the matter on Friday, counsel added that there is a probability that JCBs could be operated over the weekend and emphasised that the case should be heard urgently.

After hearing brief submissions in the matter, the bench agreed to list the matter for hearing on Friday.

Earlier this month, the Eknath Shinde-led state government removed the stay on construction of a Metro 3 car shed at Aarey Colony. The decision paved the way for construction of the Metro car shed at the green lung, which was stopped on November 29, 2019.

The stay was given by then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, barely 24 hours after he assumed office on November 28, 2019, and he later declared around 800 acres of land in Aarey Colony as ‘forest’ and planned shifting the car-shed to a new site in Kanjurmarg. Tree felling in the colony has been opposed by green activists and local residents.

In 2019, the apex court had taken suo motu cognisance of a letter petition addressed to the Chief Justice of India by a law student urging the court to stay on felling of trees in the colony.

The top court restrained the authorities from felling trees in Aarey colony after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for Maharashtra government, submitted that no further trees will be cut.

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