Mumbai, Oct 6 (PTI) Prohibitory orders continued to be in force in Aarey Colony and surrounding areas for the second day on Sunday, as felling of trees was underway to make way for a Metro car shed, a police official said.
Heavy security was deployed at Aarey Colony’s five entry points, including the key connecting road near the Western Express Highway, to prevent people from going towards the area and to avoid any untoward incident, he said.
Most of the shops, restaurants and roadside stalls remained closed in the area in view of the imposition of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), banning unlawful assembly, since Saturday.
The police official said the situation was expected to become normal soon.
Patrolling was stepped up in the tribal hamlets located in Aarey area and those found assembling there were being taken into custody, but later let off after proper verification, he said.
On Saturday, clashes broke out between the police and green activists who tried to stop tree cutting by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) in Aarey Colony, leading to the arrest of at least 29 people.
The 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 nearly 2,700 trees in the prime green lung of the city.
“Several trees in the area have been cut and security has been tightened,” the police official said.
He said that Section 144 of the CrPC will remain imposed in the area till the completion of cutting of the prescribed number of trees.
“We have identified five major spots which are broadly used to get access into the Aarey Colony, including from the Western Express Highway, Marol police training camp centre and one route coming from Mulund side,” he said.
“Police personnel have been deployed on all these spots. Pedestrians have been advised not to venture into five km area in the vicinity of Aarey Colony.
Besides, those residing in the area need to show their Aadhaar cards to move around. We are ensuring that no one is allowed free access to the disputed area,” he said.
Several senior police officials are on bandobast duty, he added.
Earlier, opposition parties slammed the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, stating they failed to save the trees.
Yuva Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray also criticised the MMRCL and backed the protesters.
The MMRCL has 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.