With no stay on the felling of trees, will the MMRCL authorities begin the destructive felling rightaway?
How soon will the petitioner groups appeal this decision?
Adivasi settlements are spread across Aarey. The Adivasis have been living in the area since before the Aarey Dairy farm was set up in 1951. In the past, these Adivasis have lost chunks of the land to projects such as NSG training centre, Film City, and housing complexes, among others. Despite protesting and raising their voices.
It isn’t everyday that people from all walks of life in a Metropolitan city come together to take a stand against demolition of its green cover. Over the past few months the protests have gained much traction and have been actively and prominently covered by news media as well. There are a lot of stakeholders who stand to being affected due to the felling of about 2,700 trees in Aarey.
The Founder of Aarey Conservation Group, which is one of the leading groups in the “Save Aarey” campaign, Ms. Amrita Bhattacharjee says that the movement started 5 years back and now a younger generation has started partaking in the protests.
The Aarey forest is home to varied species of flora and fauna and also wildlife. Felling of trees here would mean encroachment which could lead to destruction of a well bred ecosystem.
See the full story on what the Adivasis are fighting for here: Aarey Adivasis demand forest rights, implementation of FRA
Prakash Bhoir is a fiery Adivasi activist from Aarey, whose consistent initiatives have helped shed light on the condition of Adivasis in this forest. Per Bhoir, the multiple development projects in the area have impacted Adivasis’ farming, their cattle, as well as the wildlife. Bhoir remarks that any time one talks about the supposed development projects, it is the Adivasis who are sacrificed at the altar of this development.
NGO Vanashakti had approached the Bombay High Court seeking a declaration that entire 1280 hectare area of Aarey Colony as ‘reserved Forest’ or a ‘Protected Forest’ as the case may be, under the Indian Forest Act, 1927.The decision of this petition would have proved to be extremely significant in the background of another petition with the Bombay High Court contending permission given by the Tree Authority’s to cut about more than 2,600 trees. The petition was, however, dismissed by the Bombay High Court citing that a petition raising the same question was decided in the negative by a Bench of the same Court and appeal is pending before the Supreme Court of India.
The judgment can be read here
Two other petitions were filed by environmental activist Zoru Bathena as well as by a BMC Corporator one Mr. Yashwant Kamlakar Jadhav against the decision of the Tree Authority permitting cutting down of more than 2,600 trees. The Bombay High Court dismissed both petitions and it stated in its judgment that “the fact that the proposal of the project proponent was scaled down with reference to the number of the trees to be felled is itself proof of the decision making process being fair, transparent and based on reason.” The Court, in its judgment dismissing both petitions, concluded, “the Greens fail even in these two petitions, but not on account of sailing their boats in the wrong channel, but on merits.”
The judgment can be read here
Thereafter, it became known that this plot is free from litigation and can be used to locate the Metro 3 car shed. The occupier was trying to sell the land or create a third party interest on it. Kindly note that the said land falls under CRZ 1 and the same is shown in the DP maps.
The Hindustan Times, in its edition on January 17 had reported that city suburban collector in a first of its kind decision had taken back 66 acres of government land in Kanjurmarg that had been leased to a private company for industrial development in 1984, following violation of lease agreement. The estimated value of this land is now Rs3,000 crore.
Before the Bombay High Court, activist and petitioner Zoru Bhathena had raised a contention that the MMRCL and BMC had the alternative of constructing the Metro car shed in Kanjurmarg and the government was in possession of close to 1,668 hectare land and only 242 hectare was under litigation, while Metro car shed required only 41 hectare.
NGO petitioners battling the issue in the courts thereafter urged government to accept this “win win” situatio which would not just save trees but also allow the MMRCL to develop the metro rail corridor.
Alas, the government refused to yield.
The protestors point of view
The Supporters’ point of view:
News in Brief
In times like these, when the political unrest in our country is soaked in communal tension, tales of communal harmony where Hindus and Muslims have worshipped the same Gods and Goddesses since ages, need to be reiterated time and again. Bonbibi or 'Lady of the Forest' is one Goddess that the Hindus and Muslims of Sundarbans, in Bengal, have unanimously prayed to protect themselves from wild animals in the forest, as they ventured inside to collect wood, honey, crabs and fish, thus solidifying the religious syncretism of our country. Watch this video to know more.