Within hours of getting the go ahead from Bombay High Court to cut trees in Aarey colony in Mumbai for proposed Mumbai metro car shed, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) swung into action.
— Mumbai Mirror (@MumbaiMirror) October 4, 2019
Activists and citizens gathered on the spot to protest against the felling of trees. Some even took to Twitter to spread falsehood that there is a 15-day wait period before the authorities cut the trees.
There is supposed to be a 15 day waiting period after permission is granted and notice has been uploaded on official website. But there is no waiting here. Our trees are being cut as citizens desperately plead to STOP this! @moefcc @PrakashJavdekar #Aarey https://t.co/nmVP7WllI7
— Dia Mirza (@deespeak) October 4, 2019
These claims, however, are incorrect. Although it is true that the Tree Authority did impose a waiting period of 15 days, that period is already over. Activists are saying that the waiting period starts from the date of upload, which is completely false, because the waiting period starts from the date the order was issued.
At around 9 PM last night, despite the protests, the Mumbai metro authorities started cutting the trees. Soon, the ‘activists’ started getting rough with the authorities and removed the barricades put up by them. As per latest reports over 800 out of about 2100 trees have been cut by the authorities through the night. About 500 trees will be transplated (uprooting and replanting elsewhere).
The police have blocked roads leading to the proposed site for metro car shed and no one is allowed within 3 km radius. As per reports, around 100 activists have been detained and taken to different police stations.
On Friday, the Bombay High Court dismissed all petitions against the Bombay Municipal Corporation decision to cut 2,700 trees in the Aarey Colony to make way for the Mumbai Metro car shed. The Bombay HC also dismissed the plea to declare Aarey an ‘ecologically sensitive zone and floodplain’.
Mumbai Metro is an ambitious infrastructure project which attempts to connect every nook and corner of the city. A city clogged with traffic and people this comes as a mode of quick, safe and cheap transit. By reducing vehicular traffic the metro de-clogs the roads and an independent UNFCC study points to the fact that it shall reduce CO2emission by 2.6 lakh metric tons every year.
Aarey is spread over 1278 hectares of land, out which, the metro car shed will be only built on 30 Hectare of Aarey land and even within that, 5 Hectare has been kept intact for greenery. So in a nutshell, only 2% area of the entire Aarey Colony will be utilized for the proposed metro car shed.
The proposed metro shed had triggered widespread protests, where assorted NGOs and film stars joined hands to oppose the shed. The protestors argue that the present government is killing the lungs of the city and destroying forests and that the move is anti-environment. However, the fact is that Aarey is not a forest but ‘grazing land’.
The campaign against the Metro project has been ridden with several lies and inaccuracies. It has almost become the professional demand of certain NGOs to stall development work by citing ‘environmental reasons’. Recently, Mumbai High Court imposed a fine of rupees one lakh on an NGO for filing a frivolous petition to stall development project in Navi Mumbai. The court noted that the PIL filed by Abhivyakti, the NGO, was motivated to somehow stall development work in Navi Mumbai.