The Supreme Court has taken suo motu cognisance of the tree felling in north Mumbai’s Aarey colony and will hold a special sitting on Monday after it converted a representation by a group of law students into a Public Interest Litigation.
A special bench has been formed for urgent hearing of the case against the felling of over 2,600 trees in Aarey colony for the construction of a Mumbai Metro car shed, which has been opposed by activists and residents and sparked massive protests in the city. The SC judges are on vacation from October 7 to 12 for Dussehra.
A notice posted on the apex court’s website said a “special bench has been constituted to hear the matter tomorrow i.e. 7th October, 2019 at 10.00 a.m. on the basis of a letter dated 6th October, 2019 addressed by Rishav Ranjan with regard to felling of trees in state of Maharashtra which has been registered as a public interest litigation.”
A group of law students of a Noida-based college had on Sunday approached Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, seeking the court’s immediate intervention to stop felling of trees in Mumbai.
The letter sent to the CJI by Rishav Ranjan on behalf a student delegation on Sunday comes two days after the Bombay High Court refused to declare Aarey Colony a forest and declined to quash the Mumbai municipal corporation’s decision to allow felling of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro car shed.
The letter stated, “As we write this letter to you the Mumbai authorities continue to kill the lungs of Mumbai i.e Aarey forest by clearing of trees near Mithi river bank and according to news reports 1,500 trees have already been cleared by the authorities. Not only this but our friends are put in jail who were peacefully organising a vigil against the acts of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) with Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) at the site.”
In the letter, the students asked the court to exercise its epistolary jurisdiction for “environmental concerns and protection of Aarey without getting into technicalities as there was no time for preparation of proper appeal petition”.
The Bombay HC had on Friday rejected a plea against the axing of trees, and the BMC had soon after started chopping trees down under the cover of darkness. A group of activists who protested against the decision were detained and arrested by the police.