The Bombay high court on Friday refused to declare Mumbai’s Aarey Colony a forest area. The high court also declined to quash approval to cut trees for a metro car shed.
“The issue is pending before the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal. Hence, we are dismissing the petition on the principle of commonality and not on merits,” the court said.
The Bombay high court also dismissed activist Zoru Bathena’s plea seeking that Aarey be declared a floodplain and challenging the civic body’s approval to Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd to cut 2,656 trees in Aarey Colony to set up a car shed.
Activists have been opposing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)-appointed tree authority’s decision to cut and transplant trees at Aarey Milk Colony for work on the Metro-3 car shed.
The petitioners in the case told the HC on October 1 that the proposed number of trees to be cut increased ten-fold since 2014.
“In 2014, the Mumbai Metropolitan Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) had proposed to cut only 252 trees and transplant 2,238. However, the number almost reversed in the current proposal —2,646 trees to be cut and 421, transplanted,” said activist Bathena.
On September 19, the state government urged the Bombay HC not to entertain a public interest litigation seeking to declare Aarey Colony a protected forest, stating that the court has already held that Aarey Colony is not a forest.
Advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni informed the division bench of chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Bharati Dangre that in its October 2018 judgment, the court had held the Aarey Milk Colony was not a part of Sanjay Gandhi National Park and also held that this decision was binding.