More trees might be cut at Aarey as ‘international-standard’ zoo receives financial nod

The state, in July, had made a pact with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to set up an international-standard zoo at Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon

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The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) had chopped down 2,141 trees at the Aarey Colony to make way for a car shed for Metro 3 (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) on October 4. Owing to which, the activists along with the citizens were miffed against the authorities for cutting down the trees in a hurried manner. However, more trees may be hacked in the area after the state government approved the finances for the construction of an “international-standard” zoo in Aarey.

The Forest Department, in a government resolution (GR), approved a grant of ₹60 lakh for the conservation wall of the zoo on October 9. This wall will be built in the Tulsi Forest Area adjoining the border of Marol, east of Goregaon in Borivali’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and Aarey. This is expected to provide protection and demarcation of the zoo’s planned site.

Previously, in July, the state had made a pact with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to set up an international-standard zoo at Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon.

Meanwhile, as the Forest Department has decided to cut down some trees for construction, the GR does not clarify the number of trees to be brought down. The government has handed 190 acres of land in Aarey for the project, which has been in the pipeline since 2009. The estimated cost of the project is ₹500 crores and is expected to be completed in four to five years.

Meanwhile, the Aarey arm of the Byculla Zoo is expected to offer a jungle safari as an attraction and host a captive breeding programme for the conservation of endangered species. 

However, the locals, i.e. adivasis had objected to it and had protested the state government’s move to allot a plot in Aarey for the zoo as many might lose their land because of it. On the other hand, environmentalists had demanded that the entire Aarey Colony be declared as a reserve forest and merge it with the neighbouring SGNP, instead of constructing a zoo.

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