New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday made it clear that the order on status quo in Mumbai''s Aarey colony forest area applies only to the felling of trees and there is no bar on the construction of a car shed for the Mumbai Metro.
Extending the prohibition order on cutting of any more trees in the Aarey area, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra directed the Maharashtra government to maintain status quo till the next date of hearing on November 15.
The court made these remarks after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assured the bench that no more trees would be cut, but also insisted that the court clarify that there is no stay on the construction work.
Mehta informed the court that whatever trees had to be cut for the project have been cut already.
The petitioners'' Senior Counsel Colin Gonsalves told the court that, as per reports, many of the transplanted trees are not in good condition.
Thereafter, the apex court sought a report from Maharashtra government on how many saplings had been sown as well as the number of trees transplanted.
The Supreme Court has stayed the tree felling operations in the Aarey forest area that has already resulted in cutting down a significantly large number of trees, following the Bombay High Court order earlier this month allowing trees to be cut for constructing a car shed for the Mumbai Metro.
The court on Monday also asked that the government plan for the greening of the entire Aarey area.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who was representing Mumbai Metro, praised the Delhi Metro saying that 60 lakh commuters are availing the service daily and it has helped in controlling air pollution in the national capital.
Rohatgi also told the court that allegations regarding construction of other buildings projects are baseless as the only construction activity in the area is for building the Metro car shed.
In its October 7 order, the apex court had ordered that no more trees should be cut in the area. The top court has agreed to examine the plea after the petitioners'' counsel told the court that the areas fall under the category of unclassified forest.
The Aarey issue has been a flashpoint between environmentalists and residents on one side and the proponents of infrastructure development on the other side.
The court initiated its own proceedings after a group of law students wrote to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi seeking the apex court''s intervention in the matter with a plea to suspend the cutting of trees immediately.
The apex court move comes a day after the Bombay High Court rejected an application moved by environmentalists seeking a stay on the cutting of trees.
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: IANS