Aarey Colony Metro Shed Saga Continues, Activist Files PIL Against Cutting 177 Trees


On Tuesday (28 March), an environmental activist filed a new PIL in Bombay High Court to challenge the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Tree Authority’s approval of the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited’s request to cut down 177 trees at Aarey Colony for the Metro 3 car shed project.

The petitioner has requested a stay on processing Tree Authority’s permission until the plea is heard.

The plea was mentioned before Acting Chief Justice Sanjay V Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep V Marne on Tuesday and the bench scheduled the hearing for Friday, March 31.

Earlier, a PIL filed by Zoru Bhathena was dismissed by the bench on March 9. The PIL aimed to overturn a notice given by the Tree Authority concerning the removal of around 170 trees at Aarey Colony.

Last year, the Supreme Court permitted MMRCL to move forward with their request to cut down 84 trees for constructing a ramp, despite opposition to the Maharashtra government’s decision to house the Metro Line 3 car depot in Aarey.

The petitioner claimed that the Tree Authority’s notice and approval had violated a Supreme Court order. However, the MMRCL countered that the daily loss of Rs 5.87 crore was being caused by the delay in constructing the ramp. Additionally, they argued that smaller plants and shrubs that had grown over time were also on the list of trees to be cut down.

Bhathena’s PIL stated that BMC Commissioner Chahal granted permission on March 13 for the same.

“The Municipal Council/House is empty and the Tree Authority does not exist. The Tree Act of 1975 allows the Municipal Commissioner to act as the Tree Authority when it is inactive. However, following the high court’s order on April 23, 2018, the Municipal Commissioner is no longer permitted to use these powers routinely. Therefore, the permission granted, which relied on the Municipal Commissioner’s Sanction, is in violation of the high court’s orders,” states the PIL.

The petitioner alleged that BMC’s approval violated the Trees Act of 1975, as the Commissioner did not upload his prior sanction on the website nor issue a newspaper notice as required by the HC’s law.

According to Bhathena, the 93 trees in question are not shrubs but mature trees. Even if they were classified as shrubs, they would still be protected under the 1975 law as they meet the definition of “trees.”