Metro at Aarey: Mumbai police registers two FIRs against protesters

Environmental activists stage a protest over the construction of a Metro car shed in Aarey forest, in Mumbai.

Environmental activists stage a protest over the construction of a Metro car shed in Aarey forest, in Mumbai. | Photo Credit: PTI

Mumbai police on July 29 registered two First Information Reports (FIRs) naming residents for protesting against the cutting of trees and construction work for the Metro 3 car shed depot.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Somnath Gharge confirmed this with The Hindu and said, “We have registered two FIRs - one is against three people for trespassing on the site of Metro car shed depot and the other is against 19 people for protesting last night.” The protesters were booked under Section 37 of the Bombay Police Act which prohibits assembly of people for the preservation of public order. However, Section 144 (power to issue order in urgent cases of the nuisance of apprehended danger) of the Code of Criminal Procedure has not been imposed in the area.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde by a letter dated July 21, 2022, revoked the stay order dated November 29, 2019 (by then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray) and directed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) to start work again at the Metro car depot site.

On July 25, all the three roads leading to Aarey were closed for 24 hours to cut and trim the trees for the metro car shed. Four residents were detained by the Mumbai police for questioning the authorities about the need to cut trees in a forest area despite court orders.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Sanjeev Patil told The Hindu, “We had detained four people because they were obstructing the trimming and pruning of trees. This is a routine exercise that takes place every monsoon, if it is not done, the same people will come and complain.”

MMRCL public relations officer issued a statement on July 28 stating, “Preparatory work of site cleaning and levelling has been undertaken for Metro car depot site. Contractors have begun the re-mobilisation at the site. All the work being undertaken is in strict compliance of relevant orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.”

However, the Supreme Court on October 7, 2019, had recorded Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s statement who was appearing for the Maharashtra government (CM Mr. Thackeray) that, “They are not going to cut any further trees till the next date of hearing.” The court had said, “Let the statement made be carried out in pith and substance. As undertaken, status quo be maintained till the next date of hearing with respect to cutting of trees.”

The petitioners in the matter had filed an application for an urgent hearing against the violation of its order before the Supreme Court on July 25. The matter was to be heard by the Bench of justice D.Y. Chandrachud, but it has not been listed yet.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2022 4:21:19 pm |