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The Aarey Forest issue became political after the BJP came to power in Maharashtra. Even though the proposal to convert the forest colony was led by the earlier Devendra Fadnavis led government, the Mumbai civic body approved the proposal by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation in September 2019.
The Supreme Court has said that the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) is bound by its own undertaking of October 7, 2019 whereby it submitted an affidavit stating that no tree will be cut, till the next date of hearing on August 30.
Bench headed by Justice UU Lalit was hearing the matter matter which pertains to the issue of felling large number of trees for the purpose of constructing a metro car shed.
An adjournment was sought by Advocate Rahul Chitnis for the state on account of taking stock of documents which had come on record. At the start of the hearing, the court was also informed that state had submitted objections to the issue of Aarey forest which is pending consideration in the top court.
The petitioner's lawyer informed court that though MMRCL may not be felling trees, there is ancillary developmental work which is taking place in the Aarey forest area and that they must be restrained from continuing the same.
To this, the bench replied that the undertaking still stood and that it was only a matter of 4 days till the case is taken up again.
The bench was hearing a matter in which, Suo-moto cognizance has been taken by the court on a letter written by a law student, Rishav Ranjan, to the then Chief Justice of India, seeking a stay on the cutting of trees for the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited's car shed located on 33 hectares land in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony.
The letter written by the law student had stated, "The site is on the bank of the Mithi River, with several channels and tributaries flowing into it, and construction for the 'polluting industry' could flood Mumbai". The court had accepted the letter as Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and set up the special Bench.
On the last date of hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the bench that the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited earlier on October 7, 2019, had submitted an affidavit stating that no trees will be cut, and not even a single tree has been cut since then in Aarey Forest.
According to Hindustan Times, Arey Colony forests in Mumbai are spread over 13,000 hectares and are home to over 20 Adivasi villages. It is also inhabited by various animal species. The controversy began in September 2019, after the Mumbai civic body's treet approved a proposal by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) to cut down over 2,700 trees from Aarey colony in order to build a car shed for the Metro.
Case Title: IN RE FELLING OF TREES IN AAREY FOREST (MAHARASHTRA)
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