A group of activists protesting felling of trees for the upcoming metro car shed in Mumbai's Aarey Colony got a temporary relief on Tuesday as the Bombay High Court said that no trees will be cut in the green area till September 30.
The court will hear a petition challenging the proposed felling of over 2,600 trees in the north Mumbai area from September 30, said a division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre.
For the last two years, environmentalists have been protesting the decision by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's Tree Authority of constructing a car shed at Aarey, which has more than five lakh trees.
The Aarey Colony, together with Sanjay Gandhi National Park, is known as the green lung of the metropolis.
On Tuesday, former Union Environment Minister and senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also came out in support of the "Save Aarey Campaign".
"Environmental issues are a big challenge for us. Climate change is a reality. And in these times destroying environment is not good. We want sustainable development," Mr Ramesh said.
However, according to the ruling BJP, the controversial project will help in reducing carbon footprint.
"Once this metro is created we will be mitigating carbon footprint which is equivalent to what is required to mitigate by growing 2 crore trees," Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said.
Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan has also come out in support of the Mumbai Metro amid outrage against the project.
Four petitions have been filed on the issue. The petition filed by NGO Vanshakti seeks a direction to the government to declare Aarey a forest area.
"Till the larger issue is decided whether it is a forest or not, why cut the trees? We might be wrong but decide the larger issue first," Zoru Bhatena, petitioner told NDTV.
The high court on Tuesday said it would look into the question whether Aarey Colony is a forest, and if it is not, can the court issue a direction that it be declared a forest.
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