Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Saturday backed felling of trees at Aarey Colony in north Mumbai, saying as per the High Court ruling it is "not a forest area".
"The greens (environmentalists) have failed," the Bombay High Court said on Friday while refusing to declare Aarey colony a forest and also declining to quash the BMC tree authority's decision allowing felling of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro carshed.
"The High Court has ruled yesterday that it is not a forest. You can't fell anything that is forest," he said at a press conference, stating that people had also protested felling of trees for Delhi Metro.
"There was a need to fell 20 to 25 trees for setting up the first metro station in Delhi and then also people had similarly opposed it. But for each tree that was cut five saplings were planted," he said.
Javadekar said the forest cover in the national capital has increased since then and public transport system has also improved.
"This is the mantra of 'vikas bhi, paryavaran ki suraksha bhi' (development with environment protection)," the BJP leader said.
The minister was asked about Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd hacking trees late Friday night to make way for a car shed, hours after the high court dismissed four petitions filed by NGOs and activists challenging the decision to allow felling of trees.
On Saturday, police imposed section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in Aarey Colony and surrounding areas, banning unlawful assembly, following strong protests by activists against the felling of trees in the green zone for a Metro car shed.
Javadekar also allayed fears about the state of economy and said it was on solid grounds.
"The Modi government is taking continuous decisions on the economic front. There is slowdown all over the world and under such circumstances, India too is somewhat affected.. we believe there is no need for alarm," the minister stressed.