Trees being cut in Aarey colony
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Tree Authority on Thursday passed the proposal for cutting 2,700 trees in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony, Maharashtra for Metro-3 car shed.
Earlier, the authority members visited the forest and opposed the cutting of trees. They had also alleged that MMRCL planted the trees four years ago, but around 30 per cent died.
A senior civic official said Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL), which is constructing the Metro, put up the proposal to cut 2,232 trees and promised to compensate by planting three times as many trees elsewhere in the city.
The colony was the vision of Mr Dara Khurody, a pioneer of dairy sector who shared the ‘1963 Ramon Magsaysay Award’ with Dr Verghese Kurien for revolutionizing the processing and marketing of milk in Mumbai.
The colony has gardens, a nursery, lakes, an observation pavilion, picnic facilities, and milk plants. 16,000 cattle are reared on 1,287 ha (3,180 acres) of land, and 32 cattle farms.
Aarey forest is part of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, and supports an entire ecosystem of its own, with a rich biodiversity.
A statement made by a Botanist and expert member Shashirekha Sureshkumar of the Tree Authority said that, she did not know what she was voting for as the proceedings were carried out in Marathi language. Another member of the authority Dr Chandrakant Salunkhe also said that the process was hurtled.
Shashirekha Sureshkumar said that the “discussions were announced in Marathi” and the authority was discussing how much more time should be taken before the final decision is made but nonetheless the “tree felling proposal was passed”.
“I am extremely disappointed. Despite being a botanist, I am being labelled a murderer (of trees)” quoted Shashirekha Sureshkumar.
Shashirekha Sureshkumar told that the suggestions were shared based on “just one visit to a small portion of the site” and how there “should have been at least eight site visits for a detailed report on such precious trees”.
The proposal was cleared at the authority’s meeting, chaired by municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi, though members from the Shiv Sena opposed it.
National Joint Secretary of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also condemned the trees felling decision and asked Mumbaikars to vote out parties responsible for this deicision.
“We urge Mumbaikars to vote out the parties which are responsible for this decision in assembly elections. We will take this up in the polls,” Ruben Mascarenhas, national Joint Secretary of AAP, said.
Citizens’ groups held protests against the move at four spots in the city on Saturday: inside the Aarey Colony in Goregaon, Dadar, CSMT and outside the BMC headquarters opposite CSMT.
Many citizens said that they were upset with the move to cut so many trees for the Metro 3 car shed and carried posters and banners saying ‘AAREY BACHAO,’ ‘YES TO METRO, NO TO METRO CAR SHED’ and ‘MUMBAI KI JAAN.’
At CSMT and outside the BMC headquarters, again, protesters held placards. Lower Parel resident Sagar Singh, one of the protestors, said they decided to protest at these crowded spots in order to carry their message to as many people as possible. “We are fighting not just for us but for our future generations,” Singh said.
Bollywood actress Shraddha Kapoor join hands in the protest on Sunday to make more people aware about it. Hashtag #SAVEAAREY is growing faster after her involvement.
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Trying to do my bit. Went live on my insta sometime back to show you all how so many people have come together to stand up against this. 2700+ trees are slated to be chopped down for the Metro. Unacceptable. Shocking. As if we don’t have enough environmental issues already. As if Mumbai doesn’t have enough pollution already. And permission is granted to chop off the lungs of the city. This HAS TO STOP. #SAVEAAREY #TRYYOURBITFORTHEENVIRONMENT @aareyforest ❤️
The internet is storming with tweets & posts regarding this cause.
“Have we learnt anything from forest fires around the world and more recently the ongoing Amazon forest fire which is devastating in its effect for the planet. Aarey colony is lungs of Mumbai and so, mumbai lungs are being cut.”
– Rajeev gupta ( a common citizen)
The protest is getting bigger, gaining more and more attention after every passing hour. Now it’ll be interesting to see, what will be the Future of Aarey colony because an ecosystem like this takes hundreds of years to build up, and cannot be re-planted over night.