The Long-Drawn Battle for Mumbai’s Aarey Colony: A Timeline

Environmentalists claim that the project would wipe out 2,646 trees in the area, destroying the city’s lungs.

2 min read
Hindi Female
Edited By :Padmashree Pande

Only hours after taking his oath as Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Eknath Shinde directed the Advocate that the controversial Metro car shed be built in Mumbai’s Aarey colony – a bone of contention between the BJP and Shiv Sena, for many years now.

The decision to build the car shed in Aarey colony reverses the previous government’s decision to relocate it to Kanjurmarg village.

On 3 July, Mumbaikars and environmentalists hit the streets once again, against Shinde's car shed order.

Located in the Northern suburbs of Mumbai, Aarey forest is home to 300 species of flora and fauna.

Evironmentalists claim that it the project would wipe out 2,646 trees in the area, destroying the city’s lungs. It also threatens the livelihoods of around 8,000 tribal people in the area.

Origins in 2014

The Save Aarey forest has its origins in 2014 when the then CM Fadnavis had announced a plan to build a car shed for the 33.5 km underground Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ Metro project at Aarey Milk Colony.

City dwellers, environmentalists and students came together to protest at the time.

NGT Gave Stay on Work In 2016

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) asked the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation in 2016 to stop work on setting up a casting workshop for the car shed.

However, MMRC called it a ‘temporary setback', confident that the stay would be lifted.

In 2018, NGT Says ‘Only Supreme Court Can Give Relief’

Three years after a petition by environment groups, the NGT said that only the Supreme Court can give them any relief as it did not have the powers uder the NGT act. The groups then withdrew their petition.

Supreme Court Ordered A Stay in 2019

In 2019, the residents staged massive protests after MMRCL cut down around 2000 trees. Simultaneously, the Bombay High Court rejected pleas by activists seeking a stay on the cutting of trees at Aarey.

Earlier that year, Fadnavis said that the government is bound to cut trees in Mumbai's Aarey forest area as "development is important".

After the felling began and large-scale protests started, Mumbai Police imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in the area near the metro-rail project site.

The case reached the Supreme Court when a Noida-based student wrote to the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, asking for a stay on the felling of trees.

In 2019, the Supreme Court ordered a status quo in the Aarey tree-felling case. It directed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Maharashtra government not to cut down any more trees until the next hearing.


Thackeray Government Shifted The Location in 2020

The Thackarey government in 2020 decided to move the location of the project to salt pan area Kanjurmarg. The government also decided that it would declare approximately 800 acres of the Aarey as a reserved forest. The cases filed against protesters were withdrawn too.

Fastforward to today where the new government has, in its first decision, decided to scrap the previous government’s decision on Aarey.

On July 1, Shiv Sena chief, Uddhav Thackarey said he was ‘saddened’ by the decision to relocate the metro car shed to Aarey colony again.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from news

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More