One tree per minute: MMRCL cut over 2,000 trees in Aarey in under 40 hours

One tree per minute: MMRCL cut over 2,000 trees in Aarey in under 40 hours
Following the Bombay High Court order, MMRCL chopped down 2,141 of the permitted 2,185 trees in less than 40 hours — at a rate of around one tree per minute

After the Bombay High Court refused to stop the felling of trees at Aarey, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) chopped down 2,141 of the permitted 2,185 trees in less than 40 hours – a staggering rate of around one full-grown tree per minute.

In a city where delay in infrastructure projects has become a norm, the MMRCL’s tree-cutting spree is a testament to what can be achieved with some motivation.

The action, however, has left activists fuming over the overnight destruction of an entire ecosystem.

“The government did not even wait for the Supreme Court but went ahead and in just 40 hours butchered 2,141 trees, though this officially claimed figure needs to be verified,” Amrita Bhattacharjee, Member of the Aarey Conservation Group (ACG), told IANS.

Bhattacharjee even alleged that in September, the MMRCL released media advertisements making misleading claims on the entire issue to misguide the people.

On its part, the MMRCL admitted that, following the decision of Bombay High Court on October 4 upholding the permission of (BMC’s) Tree Authority, it had felled 2,141 of the allowed 2,185 trees between October 4-5 – just 44 short of its target.

“We respect the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court passed today (Sunday). No further tree felling activity at the car shed site in Aarey Milk Colony. Other works including clearing of logs of already felled trees, will continue on the site,” the MMRCL said.

Another activist, Shashi Sonawane, who was among the 29 arrested by Mumbai Police for opposing the tree-cutting, said that the MMRCL’s speed in clearing the green belt clearly indicated it was “not certain of getting any reliefs from the Supreme Court”.

“Why other options were not considered for the Mumbai Metro car-shed location. It would have helped save the precious trees which also form the catchment area of the Mithi River and the three lakes inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park,” he said.

Earlier on Monday, MMRCL Managing Director Ashwini Bhide slammed the activists and stated that a ‘false propaganda’ was in the air that 15 days’ notice is required after the BMC Tree Authority order is uploaded on its website.

“This is absolutely baseless. The Tree Authority order is issued on September 13, and the 15 days are over on September 28,” adding that the MMRCL was waiting to take action till the high court order (October 4).

The decision to cut trees overnight was also criticised by several political figures, including Maharashtra Congress Spokesperson Sachin Sawant, NCP Spokesperson Jitendra Awhad and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray.

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