82,000 Mumbaikars Oppose Tree-Cutting at Aarey Forest

In the recent public hearing that was held at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) by the BMC, over 500 Mumbaikars attended the event and 82,000 have cited their objection to the BMC.

82,000 Mumbaikars Oppose Tree-Cutting at Aarey Forest

In a recent public hearing that was held by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday, July 8 at MMRDA Auditorium in Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), around 500 Mumbaikars attended the event and over 82,000 opposed the cutting of Aarey Forest for Metro 3 (Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ) car shed. 

Along with the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation’s (MMRC) proposal to build a car shed in Aarey Colony, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is looking at building the Metro Bhavan and the BMC is also looking at building a zoo in Aarey colony.  Tribal women from Aarey also attended the event and expressed their concern. 

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According to Hrishikesh Patil, an environmentalist with Muse Foundation, 

Cutting trees in Aarey is illegal. The Tree Authority has still not been properly constituted since it was dissolved the last time for not having enough experts, and thus, cannot give any clearances for cutting trees. The status of Aarey being declared as a forest is still legally pending. The environmental consequences of chopping down fully grown forest trees that support a myriad of species, retain groundwater in Mithi river's catchment area and fight the rising tide of air pollution have not been clearly assessed. Transplantation is a sham. 56% of the transplanted trees die and the transplanted saplings are also too young to retain any water or fight the problems Mumbai is going to face in the climate crisis. Instead, they require immense care and more water to help them grow. The transplanted saplings are growing merely five feet from each other and would be unable to grow into their actual sizes. And even if they do, they are very often the wrong kind of trees that cannot support an ecosystem. You can transplant a few trees, but you cannot transplant an entire forest.

He further said that the alternative sites, especially the one in Kanjurmarg and Kalina have been prematurely dismissed. Kalina majorly does not have any trees and requires very few permissions to construct there. The Kanjurmarg site is also a barren land and already hosts car shed for the Metro 6 project. In fact, it would be cost-effective to combine line 3 and 6's car shed in Kanjurmarg, as many experts have been suggesting for years. Alas, MMRCL is more interested in opening Aarey up for more ugly capitalist concretisation rather than being efficient themselves according to Patil. 

Another environmentalist who was present at the event stated that Google had put out an SOS as a flood alert in Mumbai a few hours before the hearing, and yet, hundreds of citizen-activists, Adivasis, teachers, writers, bankers, entrepreneurs, researchers, college students and even children showed up to get their voices heard.

He further lauded Mumbaikars' spirits and said that when people talk about the spirit of Mumbai, it isn't just the poor battling the rains to earn a meagre daily wage; it is everyone from all walks of life who decided to come together to protect the city against the colonizing forces of politician-builder nexus.

Also Read: BMC Cautions Mumbaikars Over Trees Falling During Heavy Rains

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