A day after the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) submitted before the Supreme Court that they have already felled trees they wanted to, activists on Tuesday demanded that they be allowed a visit to the site of the proposed Metro car shed to verify the claim.
Green activist Zoru Bhathena, whose petition against felling trees was dismissed by the Bombay High Court, said MMRCL’s claim on the number of trees needs to be authenticated. “I don’t think all the trees have been felled. To verify their claim we will seek a permission to visit the inside Aarey car shed. I will write a letter to the MMRCL, as a petitioner in this case, to verify their claim of all that was needed has been cut,” Bathena said.
In its statement on Monday, MMRCL had said that they have already felled 2,141 trees and now only 44 trees remain to be cut. Activists, however, claimed that MMRCL was “spreading” this information so that it could easily cut the remaining trees without seeming to have violated the court’s status quo order. ‘Save Aarey’ campaigners said it was also being done to mislead citizens that there is no point in protesting anymore.
On Monday, Supreme Court had stayed felling of trees in Aarey Colony until the next hearing on October 21. It also ordered the release of 29 people who had been arrested during a protest at the car shed site on October 5. While the arrested persons had been released on Sunday, the state government Monday claimed that it had already cut the required number of trees.
Explained: The fight over Mumbai’s Aarey Colony
A member of the Aarey Conservation Group (ACG) said that if the MMRCL was telling the truth, then they should allow them to visit the car shed site. “If it is true then MMRCL should allow a small delegation, comprising stakeholders, tree expert members and their own official. If they are correct they will not object to their claims being verified,” the member said.
On Tuesday, members of the tribal community from Aarey also organised a meeting to mourn the cutting of trees. They also offered condolences at Navashcha Pada, a tribal village, to the felled trees which they worshiped for years.
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