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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Mumbai metro rail resumes chopping trees at Aarey Colony amid prohibitory orders

By Saturday morning, Mumbai police had cordoned off all roads leading to Aarey which saw heavy traffic jams on Western Express Highway and Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link road.

india Updated: Oct 05, 2019 13:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
A police check post  blocking entry into Mumbai’s Aarey Colony from Goregaon.
A police check post blocking entry into Mumbai’s Aarey Colony from Goregaon.(Pramod Thakur/HT PHOTO)
         

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) resumed felling trees at Aarey Colony with the help of Mumbai police from 3.15 am Saturday. By 10 am, the administration also clamped prohibitory orders in Aarey.

Soon after the Bombay High Courts ordered in favour of MMRC and upheld the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Tree Authority’s decision to cut 2646 trees to construct a car shed for Metro Line 3, MMRC workers started felling trees at Aarey which saw protestors flocking the place in anger on Friday night. Mumbai police had to resort to lathicharge and close to 100 protestors were detained.

Watch | Activists vs authorities at Aarey, prohibitory orders imposed

 

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) condemned the move saying it’s out of ‘cruel state of mind’ of the government. “The trees were felled to avoid any stay from the Supreme Court next day,” State unit chief of the party Jayant Patil has tweeted.

As tension continued of the felling of trees, actor, politician and activist Urmila Matondkar criticised metro rail authorities saying that cutting the trees at night showed that they knew it horribly wrong and inhuman.

 

Locals said trees were being felled since the wee hours of the morning. “MMRC started cutting trees at 7pm yesterday and went on till 8.30pm after which protest broke out and police were called. Till 3 am, the police detained protestors who have not yet been released. At 3.15 am, they started cutting trees again and has been going on since then,” said Swapnil, a local resident.

By Saturday morning, Mumbai police had cordoned off all roads leading to Aarey which saw heavy traffic jams on Western Express Highway and Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link road.

Dilip Sawant, additional commissioner of police (North) said, “To keep law and order situation in control in the intervening nigh of October 4 and 5, we detained over 50 people who were protesting inside the Aarey colony. We have also released most of them and rest will be released soon. And the area has been cordoned off to prevent activist from getting into Aarey colony.”

Godfrey Pimenta, NGO Watchdog Foundation said, “The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation in coordination with Mumbai police has virtually cordoned off the roads leading to Aarey from three check post - Marol Maroshi, Powai and Goregaon. No one, except local residents, are being allowed to enter the area. Cordoning off the area has also led to severe traffic jam in the area.”

Traffic police have cordoned off the road leading towards Aarey Milk Colony from the Eastern and Western Suburbs. “Due to the protest we have blocked vehicular traffic at all entry and exit points at Aarey,” said Vijay Salunke, Police inspector of Dindoshi traffic police.

“In addition to cordoning of all three entry points, police have also placed barricades in Aarey Market and near Adivasi padas. Police is not allowing anyone to go towards Picnic point. They have completely closed down Aarey,” said an activist from the Aarey Conservation Group.