SC allows MMRCL to cut 84 trees at Mumbai’s Aarey forest for metro car shed project
The Supreme Court refused to stay Maharashtra govt’s decision on the metro car shed project and allowed the MMRCL to pursue its plea for felling 84 trees at Mumbai's Aarey forest colony
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the Maharashtra government’s order on the construction of the metro car shed at Mumbai’s Aarey forest. The SC allowed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) to pursue its plea on the felling of trees in the colony and permitted them to cut down 84 trees for the completion of the project.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha took note of the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the MMRCL, that the “felling of 84 trees was necessary for constructing train ramps at the car shed."
The apex court had in 2019 taken suo motu cognisance of a petition addressed to the CJI by law student Rishav Ranjan seeking a stay on the felling of trees in the colony. The apex court had restrained the authorities from felling any more trees after the Solicitor General submitted on behalf of the State of Maharashtra that no further trees will be cut.
The bench observed that the Maharashtra govt's fresh decision to restore the location of the car shed at Aarey, after changing its earlier decision to relocate the same to Kanjurmarg, was based on relevant considerations.
“The MMRCL should be permitted to pursue its application with the Tree Authority for felling 84 trees. In such projects involving large outlay of public funds, the Court cannot be oblivious of the serious dislocations caused if the public investment, which goes into the project, is disregarded. Undoubtedly, the concerns relating to the environment are important, as all development must be sustainable. It would be impossible for this Court to stay the decision at the interim stage,” the bench observed.
According to Live Law, the bench noted that the state government considered several factors before arriving at this conclusion, including the letter written by the central government, expert committee reports and also the fact that a substantial number of trees had already been cut prior to the petitions being filed and what remains is the cutting of the trees for the ramp.
At the end of this case hearing, titled, ‘In Re-felling Of Trees In Aarey Forest,' the SC fixed the hearing dates for the main pleas against the metro car shed project to February next year.
The felling of trees at Mumbai’s Aarey forest – often known as the ‘Lung of Mumbai’ – has been a matter of dispute for many years. Protests against the car shed project, led by environmental and social activists, erupted especially after the BMC Trees Authority had granted permission to the MMRCL to cut and transplant nearly 2,700 trees in Aarey for the construction of a metro car depot in 2019.
With inputs from PTI