Mumbai

Day after: blame game begins over felling of trees in Aarey

A protest at Churchgate station.

A protest at Churchgate station.  

Shiv Sena to seek explanation from experts; Cong. to move High Court for a stay

A day after the Tree Authority of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) allowed removal of 2,646 trees in Aarey colony for the construction of a Metro car shed, the blame game has begun. The Shiv Sena on Friday questioned the appointment of experts, while the Congress is going to file an affidavit in the existing case in the Bombay High Court requesting a stay.

On Thursday, the Tree Authority approved a proposal to cut 2,185 trees and transplant 461 trees. At the meeting, the Sena’s six members opposed it, but the two Congress members walked out, leading to the BJP, NCP and experts allowing the proposal to be passed.

Sena leader Yashwant Jadhav said, “If experts work like this, they should resign taking moral responsibility. We will write a letter to their institutes seeking an explanation.” Mr. Jadhav alleged that a project contractor ‘managed’ certain Tree Authority members to swing their votes.

Leader of opposition Ravi Raja along with the two Congress members spoke to reporters on Friday. When asked why they walked out, Jagdish Amin Kutty, one of the Congress members, said, “We were never informed that there was going to be a vote on Thursday. We opposed the proposal but when the chairman did not let us talk, we walked out. The proposal was passed 45 minutes after that. Being the larger party, shouldn’t the Sena have reached out to us? They did not want to.”

Mr. Raja said, “As per the HC direction, the experts are supposed to record the reason for rejecting the proposal. They haven’t, which means due process has not been followed. We are going to file an affidavit in the existing matter.”

Shashirekha Iyer, a botanist and an expert, told a private electronic channel, “We were against the proposal. We had submitted a number of suggestions to the BMC, including that indigenous trees be protected. There should be a balance between development and environment. We were not informed that a vote would be taken; we thought it would be deferred again.”

Meanwhile, World Wide Fund for Nature in India (WWF-India) has released a statement on its website opposing removal of trees in Aarey.

“There are media reports suggesting that Shashirekha Sureshkumar, an expert nominated by WWF-India to the Tree Authority, has agreed to the cutting of trees for the Metro car shed,” the statement said.

It said Ms. Sureshkumar had indicated through a written communication to WWF-India that she opposed the cutting of trees, and it had been mentioned in a report submitted to the municipal secretary of the BMC on August 13, in which she was a signatory.

“WWF-India does not support felling of trees in Aarey. The statement allegedly made by Ms. Sureshkumar, as reported by the media, is not endorsed by WWF-India in any form,” the statement said.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 7:56:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/day-after-blame-game-begins-over-felling-of-trees-in-aarey/article29304342.ece

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