CHIEF MINISTER Uddhav Thackeray directed Wednesday the Home department to immediately start the procedure to withdraw cases registered against the citizens who protested against felling of trees for the construction of proposed Metro car shed in Aarey last year.
The decision was taken in a state Cabinet meeting after Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray raised the issue, which was supported by Ministers Jitendra Awhad and Aslam Shaikh among others.
“These were citizens/ protestors standing for the future of our planet. To hold them from stopping desired work was one thing, but to press police charges was another. We can’t have cases against those who stand up for the environment and forests,” Aaditya tweeted.
After the Bombay High Court ruled in its favour on October 25 last year, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) had begun chopping trees at Aarey colony the same night to make way for a Metro car shed. Several activists, who had gathered at the spot to protest, were detained by the police. An FIR was registered against 29 people.
On Wednesday, the state Cabinet also decided to transfer the responsibility of implementing the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Tree Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, and making rules to the Environment and Climate Change department instead of the Urban Development department. “This will give more powers to the environment department to conserve the environment while undertaking development,” Aaditya said.
Officials said the action plan for climate change is being implemented by the Environment department through various departments with the main objectives of tree planting, conservation and maintenance of existing trees. So, the decision is taken to fulfil the main objectives, an official said.
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