In a major move, newly elected Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said that he has given orders to take back cases filed against many environmentalists during the agitation against the felling of trees in Aarey Colony for a Metro car shed.
Earlier on Friday, Thackeray had announced the suspension of work on the upcoming Mumbai Metro car shed at the Aarey Colony.
The decision came nearly two months after a massive protest was held in Mumbai over the cutting of trees in Aarey by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) authorities.
“The work on the Mumbai Metro will continue unhindered. However, the work of the car-shed will be suspended until further orders. We will not allow even a leaf from Aarey Colony to be removed,” Thackeray said.
Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) had chopped at least 2000 trees since October 4, 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 over 2,700 trees in the prime green lung of the city.
Following this, protesters opposing the BMC tree authority’s decision entered the metro rail site as the municipal corporation began felling of trees.
Twenty-nine activists were arrested as prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC were imposed in the area.
Leaders including Jignesh Mevani and Shiv Sena Worly seat contestant Aaditya Thackeray had shown their protest against the cutting of trees and appealed to the people of Mumbai to resist the “illegal” action.
Aaditya had then taken to Twitter and termed the felling down of trees as “shameful and disgusting” act which was carried out “in the cover of night, with slyness.”
“A project that should be executed with pride, the Metro 3, @MumbaiMetro3 has to do it in the cover of the night, with shame, slyness and heavy cop cover. The project supposed to get Mumbai clean air, is hacking down a forest with a leopard, rusty spotted cat and more…”
In another tweet, he said that Mumbaikars should not be treated like “criminals” for their “sensible demand of sustainable development.”
He tweeted, “The @ShivSena @sheetalmhatre1 ji & Shubha Raul ji at Aarey. Even @prabhu_suneel ji has been standing up for it with the citizens. Wonder why @MumbaiMetro3 is treating Mumbaikars like criminals and not listening to sensible demand of sustainable development.”
He even targeted the Centre’s ban on single-use plastic and termed the move as “ego battle” and no point of Central government to speak about plastic pollution” when “senselessly destroys the Aarey vicinity.”
“There’s no point for the Central government ministry of climate change to exist, or to speak about plastic pollution when the Mumbai Metro senselessly destroys the Aarey vicinity. This ego battle taken up by Metro 3 is destroying the purpose of making it,” he said.
Known as the Green lung of Mumbai, the Aarey Colony is situated near the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.