Govt will respect the orders: BJP leaders react to SC judgment on Aarey forest case

Hours after the Supreme Court asked the government to ensure that no trees are further axed at Mumbai’s Aarey Colony, BJP leaders on Monday said the government will respect the orders while expressing hope that the required permission will be granted once the facts are kept before the top Court.

Reacting to the order, BJP leader Kirit Somaiya said the party has always respected the judiciary.

“When the facts pertaining to the development work and environment conservation done by MMRCL is kept before the court on October 21, then I am sure the permission to work on Mumbai metro will be granted,” he said.

He asserted that development and environmental conservation will go hand-in-hand.

BJP leader Madhav Bhandari said the top court has not given any specific order.

“Court has given the next date of hearing on October 21. The government will honour Supreme Court directives,” he said.

Earlier in the day, a special bench of the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government to ensure that no trees are further axed at Mumbai’s Aarey Colony.

A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Ashok Bhushan directed the government to maintain the status quo and said it would further hear all the petitions in the matter on October 21.

The court passed the directive after hearing a suo moto PIL based on a letter written by a group of law students to the court against the felling of trees.

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) started axing the trees on Friday night after the Bombay High Court rejected a bunch of petitions filed by NGOs and activists against the tree felling.

Resolved to save the trees, many protestors gathered at the site to raise their voice against the felling of trees. Later, more people joined the protestors near the Aarey colony area, where the Mumbai Police imposed Section 144, thereby banning unlawful assembly.

The protesters have been demanding the relocation of the bus depot, which is a part of the Metro III project.

The police had held at least 84 protestors for allegedly disturbing public order and obstructing government officials from performing their duties. Twenty-nine out of 84 protestors were sent to five-day judicial custody by a local court on Saturday. The 29 protestors were granted bail on Sunday by Dindoshi court on a cash bond of Rs 7,000 each and asked to appear at the police station for further inquiry.

Leaders from various political parties including Shiv Sena and Congress have condemned the move to fell the trees.

On October 5, the Bombay High Court had refused to entertain urgent mentioning by Aarey activists to stay the ongoing tree cutting.

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