In a big development, the Supreme Court on Monday permitted the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) to cut off 177 trees from the Aarey forest in the city to develop a car shed. However, the top court bench, headed by CJI D Y Chandrachud also fined the metro authority for an overreach of its earlier orders. A fine of Rs 10 lakhs was imposed on MMRCL.
According to an IANS report, the top court had allowed MMRCL to pursue its application before the tree authority for the felling of 84 trees, in November last year. Back then, SC had said 84 trees can be cut subject to permission of tree cutting authority.
The top court, however, permitted the company to remove 177 trees from Aarey forest, saying a stay on tree felling would lead to the public project being brought to a standstill which is not desirable.
“MMRCL within a period of two weeks should provide an amount of 10 lakh to the conservator of forests. The conservator shall ensure that all afforestation which has been directed is completed," the bench said.
“We request the director of IIT Bombay to depute a team for the purpose of verifying compliance. A report should be submitted to this court in three weeks," it added.
Notably, the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government in 2019 said the Metro car shed would be constructed at suburban Kanjurmarg and not Aarey Colony.
In June 2022, the Eknath Shinde-led state government reversed the decision and said the car shed will be constructed in the Aarey Colony only.