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Aarey : SC Extends Status Quo On Tree Felling; Clarifies That There Is No Stay On Metro Project

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
21 Oct 2019 9:45 AM GMT
Aarey : SC Extends Status Quo On Tree Felling; Clarifies That There Is No Stay On Metro Project
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The Supreme Court on Monday extended the status quo order passed on October 7 regarding the cutting of trees in Aarey colony in Mumbai suburbs.The bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta also clarified that there is no stay on the construction activities related to Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL).The bench asked MMRCL to submit details about the number of...

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The Supreme Court on Monday extended the status quo order passed on October 7 regarding the cutting of trees in Aarey colony in Mumbai suburbs.

The bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta also clarified that there is no stay on the construction activities related to Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL).

The bench asked MMRCL to submit details about the number of trees transplanted by it to compensate the felling of trees.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Maharashtra government, submitted that no trees were cut after the status quo order was passed.

On October 7, when the Court was closed for Dussehra vacation, a special two-judge bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Ashok Bhushan was constituted after a group of law students wrote to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi seeking the apex court's urgent intervention to stop the cutting of trees in Aarey colony. This came a day after the Bombay High Court rejected an application moved by environmentalists seeking a stay on the cutting of trees.

On October 4, a division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre dismissed five petitions filed by NGOs and environmental activists challenging felling of trees in Aarey Colony in Goregaon.

The Court said that the decision taken by the Urban Development Department to reserve the area for metro car shed (as per notifications issued on 24th August 2017 and 9th November 2017) were challenged in the Bombay High Court in a previous case. The challenge was not entertained by the division bench then. That division bench in its judgment given on October 26, 2018 noted that there was nothing on record to show that the land was a forest. The SLP against that judgment is pending in Supreme Court. Also, another case is pending in the National Green Tribunal seeking declaration of the area as forest and challenging the exclusion of the region from notification for eco sensitive zones issued by the Union Ministry of Environment of Forests in 2016.

In this back drop, the High Court in its October 4 decision held that the petitions cannot be entertained as the issue was already decided by an earlier co-ordinate bench.

On the next day, an application for stay of the judgment was moved stating that the authorities were taking hasty plans to cut down the trees taking advantage of the holidays in the Supreme Court. The petitioners therefore sought a stay until they move the SC against the judgment. But a special bench of the Bombay High Court on Saturday dismissed the stay application.

Over 2000 trees in the Aarey colony were proposed to be axed for the construction of a metro car shed for the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. 


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