New Delhi, Oct. 9 -- The outcry against tree felling in the Aarey Milk Colony has reopened the debate on what constitutes a forest?

The Supreme Court in its order on Monday said the identity of the Aarey colony will have to be established. Some of the Aarey colony area was "un-classed forests" in Maharashtra government records. The Forest Survey of India defines un-classed forests as recorded forests but not classified as reserve or protected forests; the ownership of such forests varies across states.

SC's forest bench will now hear the Aarey matter on October 21 while hearing the TN Godavarman case. In the same case, the SC on 12 December 1996 observed the word "forest must be understood according to its dictionary meaning". SC also dir...