Union environment minister backs tree felling at Mumbai’s Aarey, cites Delhi Metro as example
Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar on Saturday backed tree felling for a proposed metro car shed in Aarey colony in Mumbai and cited the Delhi Metro as an example to drive home the point that development and environment protection can co-exist.
He spotlighted the fact that the Bombay high court has ruled that Aarey area is not a forest.
The police have imposed section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in Aarey Colony and surrounding areas on Saturday, banning unlawful assembly, following spirited protests by activists against the felling of tress in the green zone, an official said.
Protests continued early Saturday with protesters questioning the tearing hurry of authorities and asking why they could not wait until a petition can be filed in the Supreme Court regarding the matter.
“The Bombay high court has ruled that it’s not a forest. When the first Delhi metro station was to be constructed, 20-25 trees were to be cut, people had protested then too, but for each tree cut, five trees were planted. This is the mantra of development and protecting the environment. Both should go together.
“In Delhi, 271 metro stations have been made and tree cover has also increased. This is development and preservation of nature,” Javadekar said.
Opposition parties slammed the ruling Sena-BJP alliance, saying they failed to save the trees. Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray criticised the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd for “slyly and swiftly” cutting down an ecosystem, which, he said, is “shameful and disgusting”.
Thackeray, who is contesting from Worli in the October 21 assembly election, extended his support to the protesters.
“The vigour with which the Mumbai metro 3 is slyly and swiftly cutting down an ecosystem in aarey is shameful and disgusting. How about posting these officials in POK giving them charge to destroy terror camps rather than trees?” he asked.
In a veiled dig at Thackeray, the NCP asked where the “fake environment lovers” were when the tree felling began.
The MMRCL started hacking trees from Friday night to make way for a car shed, hours after the Bombay High Court dismissed four petitions filed by NGOs and activists challenging the decision to allow felling of trees in the prime green lung of the city.
(With agency inputs)