All You Need to Know About Aarey Forests Protest


trees on forest with sun rays

On the night of October 4, a bull-dozer came with tree cutting instruments and within an hour many trees were cut down. This happened in the Aarey Colony of Mumbai. The local people from there reported this to the respective department and within an hour, activists from various groups came against this action because of which Section 144 of CrPC was imposed.

Where are the Aarey Forests?

The presence of the Aarey forest makes Mumbai one of the unique metropolises of the world for having a true jungle within the premises of a jungle of concrete. The Aarey forest is very close to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The activists argue that the Aarey forest is part of the same vegetation cover. But having a separate identity, the Aarey forest begins from Powai and continues till the Western Express Highway in Goregaon. 

The background of the Protests

This all started when Mumbai civic body granted permission to Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) to cut down over 2,700 trees from Aarey Colony to make shed for the Metro. When the local people watched this, they made a video about it and uploaded it on many social networking sites and informed the various departments and when the activists got to know about the following news, they started protesting against it. 

The fuel was added to the fire, when Prakash Javedkar, Cabinet Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Information and Broadcasting, justified these events for the sake of development and drew parallels between the time when 25-30 trees were cut for the Delhi Metro station. Activists were protesting against the same when Section 144 was imposed. Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973 authorizes the Executive Magistrate of any state or territory to issue an order to prohibit the assembly of four or more people in an area. According to the law, every member of such 'unlawful assembly' can be booked for engaging in rioting. Even when the section wasn’t violated, people were forcefully put in the van and were taken to the nearest Police Station. Many law students filed the petition against this act, and they were put behind the bars too. But understanding that those students had the paper on Monday they were released. 

Court Rulings

A mother of a child who was in prison told in Police Station, “putting people behind bars may give a small-time relaxation, but remember, this thing is not over.” When the movement was getting bigger, and it was getting impossible for the Police to stop them, the court listened to the students finally, and have put the activities on halt. The court has decided to listen to this matter on 21st October, and before that, not a single tree can be axed. When the activities were stopped, already 2,100 trees are being cut. So now the court has to decide what to do. 

But before putting all the blame on the court, don’t you think that court isn’t smart or knowledgeable enough to do this step, without thinking of the environment? The answer is ​NO​. When the plan was proposed, a lot of objection was put. And after the long fights and discussions, it was decided that an equal number of trees will be grown in another area which is being cut right now along with the care and protection of those trees. 

The court’s way of compensating for Aarey

There is an order given by the court, that a proper horticulturist will be appointed for the same, who will take care of that land for the next 3 years and makes sure that the trees are been given the proper care. The court has given the proper height and the length of the trees which should be there in the next 3 years. In case, this does not happen, the company has to pay a fine of 1 thousand to 5 thousand Rupees a week, and severe actions will be taken against it.  

Conclusion

The court is trying to control the conditions of Aarey, and so only the local people of Aarey are allowed to be in the area, and all the outsiders are asked to leave as soon as possible. They have also stopped all the work and it will be on hold till they hear what to do next from the court.  We all know that activists sometimes, try to pull on these stunts to gain little publicity and attention. But because of these things, we get to know what is going on around us and how people are reacting to it. 

Like in this case, Mumbai's Aarey Colony is at the centre of a heated debate on environment v/s development, which is the most trending topic on Twitter, with various celebrities speaking about the topic. You can also share your views and use #ChipkoAarey and #SaveAarey to let people know what you think about this topic. 

- Shreyati Garg


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All You Need to Know About Aarey Forests Protest All You Need to Know About Aarey Forests Protest Reviewed by EMN on October 10, 2019 Rating: 5

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