The tussle that has been fuming since 2014 between concerned citizens, green activists, the Aarey colony residents, and many other NGOs versus the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (MMRCL) has now come to an end. By Kumar Shree
Citizens, activists and NGOs have been registering their disregard since 2014 against the proposal of MMRCL, which suggests cutting of trees near Aarey Colony in order to create space for erecting a Metro car shed. However, due to the constant opposition, the MMRCL had to reconsider their proposal, rework on it and submit it again to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Tree Authority. Nonetheless, the tussle between the opposing sides has now come to a halt as the BMC’s Tree Authority has said yes to the relocation of trees.
The proposal by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. mentions the relocation of 2700 trees, out of which 2,232 will be cut down and 469 will be transplanted. This decision from the BMC’s Tree Authority comes as a shock to many as the authority received a close of 82,000 applications registering their opposition against uprooting these trees. NGO Vanashakti and Aarey Conservation Group even filed a petition for declaring Aarey into a forest and an eco-sensitive zone so as to save it from taking an axe, but it could not happen as the National Green Tribunal (NGT), in 2018, said it had no jurisdiction of declaring Aarey as a forest.
It is noteworthy here why the metro car depot needs to be set up in a green zone, especially when it is one of the prominent green zones of Mumbai. The Metro Corporation claims of having studied and considered other sites for the car shed after the public outcry against cutting off the Aarey Forest but had to settle for the appointed site as the alternative site of Kanjurmarg, Eastern Expressway could not be zeroed down upon because of many implications like non-availability of land, technical difficulties and financial issues.
Many citizens, NGOs and some members of Shivsena are still saying that they will challenge the decision in the high court. Well, let’s see what happens with Aarey as we sincerely hope that the environment is not compromised at the cost of development.