Hours after sitting on Maharashtra’s chief minister’s seat, Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray, in his first policy decision, ordered to put a halt to the car shed construction for the Mumbai Metro in Aarey Milk Colony.
Addressing his first press conference as chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray said, “I have ordered to stop the work of Aarey metro car shed project today. Metro work will not stop but till next decision, not a single leaf of Aarey will be cut,” adding, “I am the first Chief Minister who was born in Mumbai. It is going on in my mind, what I can do for the city.”
“I am in Mantralaya (state secretariat) for the first time. I just had a meeting with the secretaries and we introduced each other. I told them to use taxpayers’ money in the best way, and that it should not be wasted,” said Thackeray while speaking to reporters after taking charge as the Maharashtra CM.
Saying that overnight cutting of trees in Aarey was not acceptable, Thackeray said not a single tree leaf will be cut till further notice.
The Supreme Court had last month, clarified that there is no stay order on the construction of Metro shed in Aarey Colony, with a stipulation that a stay on felling of trees will remain. Besides, it has also asked for a White Paper on the matter, seeking details of trees uprooted, transplanted and those that survived the transplant.
It is pertinent to note here that along with the SC stay on felling of trees, the Metro Corporation had also said that they have cut all the trees that needed to be cut and they do not need to cut any more trees in the area.
Approximately 2000 trees were uprooted between October 4 to October 6, before the apex court put a stay on the further felling of trees. The order came after the Maharashtra government proceeded to chop the trees it needed to for its plan to clear 33 hectares of Aarey land for the project. The Supreme Court has listed the matter to be heard in court on November 15.
The Court has ordered MMRCL to submit a detail report on aforestation measures taken by it to compensate for felled trees. The court also sought a status report with pictures on plantation, transplantation and felling of trees in Aarey Colony.
On the night of 4th October, the Mumbai Metro Corporation had started the process of cutting 2,185 trees in Aarey colony after the Bombay High Court dismissed all petitions against the same earlier in that day. As per an order issued by the Tree Authority on 13th September, approval for cutting 2,185 trees and transplanting 461 trees was granted to clear the allotted land for the depot of metro trains.
Police had to impose section 144 of the IPC for smooth implementation of the order as protestors had arrived at Aarey Colony to prevent trees from being cut. Out of 2,185 trees marked for felling, 2,141 trees were cut before the stay by SC, while the Metro Corporation had said that they have cut all the trees that needed to be cut and they do not need to cut any more trees in the area.