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Aarey forest: Supreme Court asks BMC to halt felling of trees

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In the Aarey forest case, the Supreme Court prohibited the Maharashtra government from cutting any more trees and directed to maintain status quo till October 21, the next date of hearing. The matter will then be examined by a bench dealing with forest matter -- whether it is forested area or eco-sensitive zone, said the SC bench.

The Supreme Court has asked the Mumbai municipal corporation to halt felling of trees at the Aarey forest area and maintained a status quo in the matter. The apex court has also asked the authorities to release people arrested for protesting against the felling of trees.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Ashok Bhushan has observed the court will also look into the concerns of the ecological impact of the felling of trees. The matter will then be examined by a bench dealing with forest matter.
The next hearing is scheduled on October 18.
The apex court had decided on Sunday to register as public interest litigation a letter addressed to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi by a law student Rishav Ranjan seeking a stay on the cutting of trees.
The top constituted a special bench for an urgent hearing regarding the felling of trees in Mumbai's Aarey to set up a Metro car shed which is being opposed by green activists and a section of people, including residents.
Solicitor General Tushar, appearing for the Maharashtra government, assured the court that the BMC is not going to cut down any more trees further in the Aarey Colony.
Petitioners' lawyers Sanjay Hegde and Gopal Shankaranarayanan told the top court that the issue whether Aarey is a forest or not is pending with the SC and that the National Green Tribunal is also hearing the matter whether the area is eco-sensitive zone or not.
The trees were proposed to be cut for Mumbai metro-3 project and specifically for the construction of a car shed, it said and added that the high court refused to recognise Aarey as a forest or declare it as an ecological sensitive issue because of jurisdictional limits.
The letter sent to the CJI by Rishav Ranjan on behalf a student delegation on Sunday comes two days after the Bombay High Court refused to declare Aarey Colony a forest and declined to quash the Mumbai municipal corporation's decision to allow felling of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro car shed.
It also said that the students have moved the apex court as the Bombay High Court rejected the bail plea of 29 activists who had participated in the "peaceful vigil" against the tree-felling and have been detained by Mumbai police.
(With inputs from agencies)

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