Hailing the Supreme Court's order restraining authorities from cutting any more trees in Aarey Colony here to make way for a Metro car shed, the Shiv Sena on Monday said it is a "moral victory" for environmentalists.
Maneesha Kayande, spokesperson of the Sena, which is an ally of the ruling BJP but has been opposing tree felling in the city's green belt, said it was the government's "mistake" not to declare Aarey area as a forest and rued that nearly "2,100 trees" have been cut in two days.
"The Supreme Court's directives to maintain status quo at the Aarey site is a moral victory for environmentalists and citizens of Mumbai who are objecting to it," the MLC said.
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) started hacking trees from Friday night to make way for the car shed, hours after the Bombay High Court dismissed four petitions filed by NGOs and activists, challenging the decision to allow felling of trees in the prime green lung of the city.
However, the apex court on Monday restrained authorities from cutting any more trees in the area, saying it will have to examine the entire thing, and posted the matter for hearing on October 21 before its forest bench.
Reacting to it, Kayande said, "It is a mistake of the government that it has not declared Aarey vegetation as a forest. It is sad to realise that the state has chopped some 2,100 trees in two days."
"The government even arrested green activists opposing the tree felling. Why is it so necessary for the state to suppress the voice of people?" she wondered.
The United Nations declared 2010-2020 as the decade of biodiversity. It is an attempt to draw attention towards the worldwide destruction of biodiversity by various agencies, including governments, she noted.
"Why is the state government keen on destroying the biodiversity of Aarey for Metro-3 project?" the Sena leader sought to know.
The Metro authorities have defended tree felling by contending that it is restricted only to a small area in Aarey Colony, and is necessary to ensure a modern transport system for Mumbaikars.
The proposed car shed for the Metro-3 line (Colaba- Bandra-Seepz) will occupy 33 hectares.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis last month said Aarey Colony is the government's land and does not fall under a forest area.
The government also argued that if commuters use Metro instead of private cars, it will help in bringing down carbon emission.