History of Aarey Forest

While the current drive to cut over 2,700 trees and clear 33 hectares or 2% of the forested land to accommodate the Metro car shed proposed by the MMRCL has invited the ire of many Indians, the truth is that this is not the first time that Aarey has been

SHARE

The rainforests of Amazon are known as the ‘lungs of the world.’ Mumbai’s Aarey Milk Colony, with its 1,300 hectares of forest land, is called the ‘last lung of Mumbai.’ On the one hand, the Amazon rainforests continue to burn, and on the other, Aarey forest is in danger. Cutting of trees and indiscriminate deforestation are not just issues of the present, they have long-term implications for the future. Here’s everything you need to know about the importance of Aarey Forest.

Scramble for Milk, Land, and Oxygen

 After India gained independence in 1947, the city of Mumbai was launched into a world of rapid expansion. Known as the ‘city of dreams’, people from all over the country made their way to Mumbai to make money and name for themselves. Historically, the city received a steady supply of agricultural produce from around the country. However, there were a few things that were locally sourced, including milk. This drive for easily accessible milk resources led to the formation of the Aarey Milk Colony. This piece of land was handed over to the Department of Dairy Development, and a small part of it was reserved for cattle rearing.

Proposed by Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Dara N. Khurody, the Aarey Milk Colony was brought into existence in 1949. Then-Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru officially inaugurated Aarey by planting a sapling there in 1951 – he believed he was ‘planting the future.’ Has that tree even survived the multiple attempts to cut into Aarey over the last 70 years?

While the current drive to cut over 2,700 trees and clear 33 hectares or 2% of the forested land to accommodate the Metro car shed proposed by the MMRCL has invited the ire of many Indians, the truth is that this is not the first time that Aarey has been targeted.

In 1977, around 200 hectares of Aarey forest were cleared to make space for the Film City. In 2010, the proposed plan to expand the Byculla Zoo to include a night safari route for tourists was put into action. A further 40 acres of forested land was cleared to accommodate this expansion.

Where is the Air? 

 Greenpeace and IQAir AirVisual released their latest data in March 2019. According to this data, Mumbai has the dubious honour of being the most polluted city in the state of Maharashtra, and the 27th most polluted city in the country. The air quality within the city was measured as the worst in the last 20 years.

It is not just Aarey that is danger – it is Mumbai, the millions of hardworking people who call the city their home, and the teeming flora and fauna indigenous to Mumbai that is in immediate and deep danger.

The slow whittling away of forested land is how forests are diverted and destroyed. The argument that the proposed deforestation clears a much lesser area than what has already been done before is a fallacious one because hacking away the tree cover in bits and pieces will not stop until Aarey forest, with its rich history, becomes history.

RELATED TOPICS
Latest News