The court also refused to declare Aarey colony a forest or part of Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
Mumbai: The Bombay high court has dismissed all petitions opposing the metro car shed at Aarey and declined to quash the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) tree authority’s decision allowing felling of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro car shed. The court also refused to declare Aarey colony a forest or part of Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre dismissed four petitions filed by NGOs and environmental activists on issues related to Aarey Colony. One of the petitions filed by city-based NGO Vanshakti sought that the Aarey Colony should be declared as forest.
The court, in its judgment, noted that the issue was already decided by an earlier bench of the high court and the matter was presently pending before the Supreme Court.
“The greens (environmentalists) fail in the instant petition because they have lost touch with the procedure to be followed as per the law. The clock cannot be put back. We do not make any comments thereon as the petitioner has to now swim or sink before the Supreme Court,” the court said.
Dismissing the petitions filed by green activist Zoru Bathena and Shiv Sena corporator Yashwant Jadhav, the bench said the greens had failed on merit.
“The tree authority’s decision-making process was fair, transparent and based on reason. The greens fail not on account of sailing their boats in the wrong channel but on merits,” the court said.
The bench also imposed a cost of `50,000 on Jadhav. “It (Jadhav’s plea) is without any material and details concerning the meeting of the tree authority,” The court said.
“We highlight that the deliberation by the tree authority members was not only at the meeting held on August 29, 2019. They had discussed the issue at site visits held on August 10 and 20, 2019. What was discussed at the site has been neatly presented as a bonsai in the report prepared by the tree officers,” the court said.
The court also took note of the submission made by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) counsel Ashutosh Kumbhakoni that the authority had already planted 20,900 trees in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. “This establishes that about seven times the number of trees to be felled have been replaced by planting of saplings,” the court said.
It termed all the petitioners as “Davids” taking on the industrial “Goliaths”.
“Relationship with nature and love for environment alone is true and all other relationships are unreal and temporary, is their (environmentalists’) belief. Their hearts are a temple of devotion to flora and fauna,” court said.