Mumbai: Save Aarey protesters stage a demonstration against the construction of the metro car depot which is scheduled to be constructed in Aarey forest at Azad Maidan in Mumbai on Sep 15, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
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New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Monday extended the prohibition order on the cutting of any more trees in Mumbai’s Aarey colony, directing the Maharashtra government to maintain status quo till the next date of hearing on November 15.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra made it clear that the order on status quo applies only to the felling of trees and there is no bar on the construction of a car shed for Mumbai Metro.

The court made these remarks after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assured the bench that no more trees would be cut, but also insisted that the court clarify that there is no stay on the construction work.

The apex court has sought a report from Maharashtra government on how many saplings have been sown as well as the number of trees transplanted.

The Supreme Court has stayed the tree felling operations in the Aarey forest area that has already resulted in cutting down a significantly large number of trees, following the Bombay High Court order earlier this month allowing trees to be cut for constructing a car shed for the Mumbai Metro.

The court on Monday also asked that government plan for the greening of the entire Aarey area.

In its October 7 order, the apex court ordered that no more trees should be cut in the area.

The top court has agreed to examine the plea after the petitioner’s counsel told the court that the areas fall under the category of the unclassified forest.

The Aarey issue has been a flashpoint between environmentalists and residents on one side and the proponents of infrastructure development on the other side.

The court initiated its own proceedings after a group of law students wrote to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi seeking the apex court’s intervention in the matter with a plea to suspend the cutting of trees immediately.

The apex court move comes a day after the Bombay High Court rejected an application moved by environmentalists seeking a stay on the cutting of trees.

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