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Two days after taking charge, Uddhav orders withdrawal of cases against Aarey activists


MUMBAI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday announced that the state government has decided to withdraw all cases filed against activists who opposed the Metro car shade at Aarey. 

He also said that the government shall soon come out with a white paper on the state’s financial status.

“When you are talking of development you should take everybody along. The environmentalists had opposed the felling of trees at Aarey. Government has decided to withdraw all the cases against them all,” Thackeray said while talking to media representatives at the Vidhan Bhavan premises on Sunday evening.

“We want people to be healthy and happy. Aarey is not just about trees it is about an ecosystem and only the work on the metro car shed has been stayed,” he said.

"I have directed police officials to withdraw the cases registered against green activists who were protesting against chopping of trees in the Aarey forest area," Thackeray told reporters.

Cases were registered after clashes broke out between the police and green activists opposing axing of trees by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) in Aarey Colony early October for construction of a metro car shed for the Metro-3 line.

The environmental groups had been demanding the withdrawal of cases against green activists. Yuva Sena Chief Aditya Thackeray had supported the demand and CM Thackeray announced the decision on Sunday.

After taking charge as the chief minister on November 29, Thackeray, who heads the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government, had announced stay on construction of the metro car shed project in the colony, a prime green lung of the city.

Police had booked at least 38 protesters under IPC sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from duty) and 143 (unlawful assembly).

Of them, 29 protesters, including six women, were arrested when some of them allegedly tried to obstruct the police personnel at Aarey from discharging their duty and manhandling them.

A sessions court had on October 6 granted conditional bail to 29 protesters.

CM Thackeray also said that he has ordered a review of all the currently underway development projects.

ALSO READ | 'Not a single tree leaf will be cut': Uddhav Thackeray announces stay on Aarey metro project

“We have asked for an update on development works currently underway, estimated cost, hurdles, completion time. We will then decide what needs to be done on priority and some works that are being done on priority whether are they really needed,” he said.

Thackeray said his government would not work in a vindictive manner.

“We will review the bullet train project just like we have not stayed the metro project,” he said.

Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday had raised the demand of Rs 25,000 per hectare as compensation for the farmers who have suffered huge losses on account of unseasonal rains in the state.

While Shiv Sena had raised a similar demand, Thackeray said while responding to Fadnavis’ demand that, “The opposition should not play games. We expect Fadnavis to meet the Centre and help Maharashtra get aid. I too shall meet the prime minister.”

Fadnavis, however, said that the compensation for the farmers should come from the state government’s coffers.

Thackeray said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had personally called and wished him on assuming office. 

“I had never dreamed of becoming chief minister. This is completely unexpected. Whatever responsibilities have come my way I have fulfilled them successfully,” he said.

He said the situation in the state had changed, the government had changed, the political situation had changed. 

“Foes have become allies and friends are sitting on the opposition benches. I do not believe in the term opposition as everyone who is elected has come to solve people’s problems. There can be differences of opinion on how this can be done. After all, democracy is about making the people’s voice heard,” he said.

(With PTI Inputs)