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Bombay High Court today dismissed a batch of petitions, thus clearing the way for the time being for Mumbai Metro Rail corporation Limited (MMRCL) for building a car shed for Metro line 3 at Aarey colony.

Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre issued a verdict declaring Aarey is not a forest. The bench was hearing a challenge to the Tree Authority’s decision to fell 2646 trees to build the car shed.

The Aarey colony, measuring 1,287 hectares and located adjoining the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, is known as a major green lung of Mumbai.

“The issue is pending before the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal. Hence, we are dismissing the petition on the principle of commonality and not on merits,” the bench said.

The high court also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on Shiv Sena corporator Yashwant Jadhav, who had filed a petition against the approval granted by the civic body’s tree authority. He is a member of the tree authority.

NGO Vanashakti and other environment activists had put up a brave long fight for more than 800 days to save the trees at Aarey.

The metro line 3 is supposed to reduce 6.65 lakh vehicular trips per day and an overall reduction in fuel consumption by 3.54 lakh litres per day. Currently, while 61% of tunnelling is already completed the station work has achieved 40% of completion status. The Government has already incurred 11,198 cr of expenditure on this project while awarding 10 contracts to specialised systems agencies.

Petitioner Zoru Bhathena, who had challenged the Tree Authority’s decision, said, “Extremely saddened to get this news. We will take this fight forward. It’s a sad day for Aarey today. We will approach the Supreme Court.”

-India Legal Bureau

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