CHRONOLOGICAL EVENTS IN THE SAVE AAREY MOVEMENT (As on 14.10.2018)
23 NOVEMBER 2014
Citizens come together to save Aarey after seeing notices pasted on trees at the proposed Metro 3 car shed site. The notices state that the trees are slated to be cut and objections, if any, are to be filed within a fortnight with the Tree Authority.
Citizens file objections with the Tree Authority.
They move a PIL before the Hon’ High Court Bombay against cutting of 2298 trees in Aarey.
Citizens also meet the MMRCL officers, Municipal Commissioner and Tree Authority members to request them to relocate the car shed from Aarey.
The Tree Authority does not give an NOC to the MMRCL to cut the trees in Aarey. The Hon’ High Court disposes the PIL with orders to the MMRCL to make available to the public the Environment Impact Assessment Report of the Metro 3.
Citizens simultaneously launch awareness drives and signature campaigns at Equal Streets, Standard Chartered Marathon and many other public events to Save Aarey. Also , awareness and signature drives carried out at societies, colleges and stations.
AamAadmi Party supporters do a protest rally from Goregaon Station to proposed Metro site in Aarey.
Citizens also organize a protest rally on 15.2.2015 attended by about 1500 people .
MrAdityaThakerey and Mr Raj Thakerey visit the site and commit their support to Save Aarey.
MARCH- APRIL 2015
Citizens organize a Human Chain at Marine Drive which is attended by 2500 people from all walks of life and across all political parties
Citizens meet the Chief Minister MrDevendraFadnavisand EknathKhadse, the Dairy Development Minister and implore him to relocate the car shed from Aarey. The CM appoints a Technical Committee to consider and explore various options to relocate the car shed. The Committee consists of MMRDA chief Mr UPS Madan, MMRCL head, MsAshwini Bhide, Municipal Commissioner SitaramKunte , and 2 environment experts from IIT Bombay and NEERI – DrRakesh Kumar and Dr Shyam Asolekar.
MAY- JUNE 2015
Vanashakti and Aarey Conservation Group file a petition before the Hon’ NGT Pune, praying for Aarey to be declared as a forest and an Eco Sensitive Zone . Citizens also organize an AareyMahotsav to show case the bio- diversity of Aarey. A number of plantations and other events also carried out involving college children and residents of nearby areas.
JULY – AUGUST 2015
Vide order dated 20.07.2015 , Hon NGT directs that Status quo be maintained in the entire Aarey colony area and no construction activity be carried out in the buffer Zone within 100 m from the boundary of the SGNP without the approval of the Tribunal.
Vide order dated 19.8.2015 the NGT further passed an order restraining any construction activity to take place inside Aarey Colony.
The CMs Technical Committee appointed for considering relocation of the car shed, ignores the views of the environmental experts who had categorically stated that considering the biodiversity of Aarey and it being catchment area of the Mithi , the car shed will be detrimental and should be relocated from Aarey.
However, the MMRCL insists on having the car shed at Aarey only.
DECEMBER 2015- JUNE 2016
Apna Mumbai Abhiyaan Organisation join hands with Vanashakti and the Aarey Conservation Group to Save Aarey. Human Chain again formed at Juhu Beach by celebrities and citizens for Aarey .
DECEMBER 2016- FEBURARY 2017
Citizens organize a protest and Human Chain on 12.12.2016 at Aarey Milk Colony which is attended by 1500 people.
The State Government brings out notification to dereserve 33 hectares of land in Aarey for commercial uses, Metro car shed and allied activities, which is vehemently opposed by citizens and about 4000 objections are filed with the Town Planning Department.
Vide order dated 5.1.2017, the Hon’ NGT in the petition filed by Vanashakti and ACG orders that work on the 3 hectare land near JVLR in Aarey can be used for the purpose of casting yard after obtaining all necessary legal permissions/ approvals.
Through RTIs filed with various departments and agencies, Aarey land Scam comes to light. In comes to knowledge that 2076 hectares of land in Aarey Colony was transferred from the Revenue Department to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park when it was expanded in 1969 . Out of these 2076 hectares, 575 hectares of land was excised for the recreational zone and the rest 1501 hectares was to continue to remain a part of the Borivali National Park or the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The documents in respect of this have also been submitted on affidavit before the Hon’ NGT.
The Citizens meet the Chief Minister MrDevendraFadnavis again and request to relocate the car shed and Save Aarey Forest. The CM asks the MMRCL chief Ms Ashwini Bhide to look into the matter to consider the Kalina land for the car shed. The Citizens meet the members of the MMRCL again but they refuse to consider the Kalina option without giving any reasons.
MMRCL starts work on Soil Testing in Aarey near Unit 19
with a large contingent of Police despite a status quo order of the Hon’ NGT. The citizens protest and file a complaint with the Aarey police Station on this violation of NGT order .
MAY –DECEMBER 2017
The Hon’ High Court Bombay, vide order dated 6.5.2017, dismissed the PIL filed by the Citizens and lifts the stay order on cutting of trees for the Metro 3 project. The citizens file a SLP before the Hon’ Supreme Court, which disposes it off refusing stay on cutting of trees but granting liberty to the citizens to approach the High Court for appointment of the committee to oversee tree transplantations and plantations required for the project. The Citizens approach the High Court but even before the committee is formed, MMRCL starts cutting of trees at Churchgate, near Siddhi Vinayak and numerous other In October 2017, citizens file complaints with the Collector, Aarey Police Station and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board for work being done inside Aarey by MMRCL in violation of the status quo order of the Hon’ NGT and without the mandatory permissions required . Citizens seek permission from the police for a peaceful and silent protest at the proposed yard site in Aarey which is denied. Hence around 100 save aarey volunteers and supporters collect at Picnic Spot where they hug the trees and do a protest by doing a symbolic chipko .Many are detained and then let off with a warning not to disrupt the work going on.
Aarey Conservation Group and other groups working in association to save Aarey organize various events all over the city to create awareness and connect more people to the cause. Aarey Tigers, Youth for Aarey and Pinkathon Runners organize walks, cycling and runs to draw more people to see and cherish the city’s forest.
A number of celebrities and bollywood personalities tweet and voice their support for saving Aarey which include
actors Shabana Azmi, Raveena Tandon, Alia Bhatt,Vishal Dadlani, Farhan Akhtar , singer Shaan among many others.
Citizens file another petition in the Hon’ High Court
,Bombay against the change in reservation of land use to
accommodate the Metro3 car shed in Aarey. The matter has been argued and is reserved for orders by the Hon’ High Court.
Though the status quo order for Aarey by the Hon’ NGT continues, yet, in a brazen violation of the order, the work of Metro car shed was going on at the proposed site. Despite application for urgent hearing before the Hon’ NGT Pune, the matter could not be taken up in the absence of Judicial Member in the bench. Hence the matter was moved before the Hon’ NGT, Principal Bench , New Delhi where it was heard on 3rd May 2018. The Hon NGT confirms the status quo order for Aarey. The MMRCL moved an appeal before the Hon’ Supreme Court but the apexd court declined to give any relief to the MMRCL and upheld the status quo order of the NGT.
The Hon” NGT orders that it does not have the jurisdiction to declare Aarey as a forest and asks us to move the High Court or the Supreme Court to get Aarey declared as a forest.It directs us to withdraw our petition which we do and start steps to file petition before the High Court. The BMC issues a notification for calling objections to proposed felling of 2702 trees in Aarey,. The last date for receiving objections is 3.10.2018 and the public hearing is slated for 10.10.2018 before the Gardens Superintendent at his office at Byculla . In the meanwhile, the MMRCL start chopping off the trees at UNIT 19, Prajapur Pada, Aarey colony ,which is the site for the the ramp of the carshed. Citizens reach the site and vehemently protest against such cutting of trees . Even as there are heated exchanges between citizens and authorities as MMRCL/contractors refuse to show requisite permissions for cutting off trees , around 150 big trees are felled at the site. Citizens are detained by the police at Aarey police Station and then let off with a warning by late evening.
An eventful start to the month of October 2018 . More than 40,000 citizens file their objections with the Garden Superintendent , VeerMata Jijabai Udyan , Byculla against cutting of 2702 trees in Aarey for the Metro 3 car shed.
The public hearing on 10.10.2018 is attended by about 1000 people, right from the adivasis, tabela owners, citizens from all walks of life, leaders and members of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Aam Aadmi Party. The BMC appeared absolutely ill equipped and unprepared to handle such a huge crowd who were all charged up against the needless destruction of the city’s lungs . Citizens also faced tough and anxious moments as the police was not allowing them to get to the venue for the hearing nand many Tribals were kept out despite fervent pleas to let them in. The public hearing was a total eyewash as the BMC officers did not even hear all the citizens and just walked out of the hall .
Meanwhile , in the petition before the Hon’ High Court Bombay, the Hon’ judges came down heavily on the BMC and directed them to grant a fair hearing to the citizens who are objecting to the proposal to cut trees for the metro car shed project. The Hon’Court further directed the BMC to publish on its website the details of the permissions granted and map coordinates of such trees. The MMRCL also submitted before the Hon’ Court that they will not cut any tree without the requisite permissions .
The case filed before Hon’ High Court Bombay by Vanashakti to trace the misssing documents of Aarey and SGNP was also admitted and notices issud to the Government to file satisfactory replies failing which a blanket ban on Tree felling would be ordered , the Hon’ Court said .
Another case filed by Vanashakti seeking declaration of Aarey as forest has also been admitted and is being heard.
The Aarey Conservation Group and all associate groups continue their consistent efforts to raise awareness and support for Aarey continue on Twitter, Facebook and the Social media.