The Tree Authority of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), controlled by the ruling Shiv Sena, has proposed to remove as many as 1,719 trees to widen the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR) and for the construction of Metro-2B (DN Nagar-Mandale) and Metro-4 (Wadala-Thane) corridors. While the civic body proposes to axe off 552 trees out of the total of 1,719 trees it suggests transplanting the remaining 1,166 trees. It has invited the citizens to give their suggestions and objections on the issue by Friday.
It is pertinent to remember here that though as ‘compensation’ the BMC has proposed to transplant 1,166 trees, the transplantation procedures does not necessarily succeed every time. There are various factors which might act as a deterant, like the the stress in a new environment, physical damage and downsizing. As such, it remains doubtful as to whether these trees can actually be transplanted or not.
Shiv Sena mouths off platitudes on environment
Ironically, this proposal by BMC comes not long after the Maharashtra Environment minister Aaditya Thackeray took to Twitter to flaunt some of the exceptional work the Shiv Sena government has done for the environment and wildlife in his state.
The last week hasn’t been too bad for environment, atleast in Maharashtra:— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) December 6, 2020
1) Mumbai re-entered @c40cities ✅
2) GoM signed an MoU with @UNICEF for an updated syllabus on Environment & climate change ✅
3) 26 of 340 electric buses launched by CM Uddhav Thackeray ji ✅
Moreover, last week, in a meeting, conducted to discuss the state government’s plans over the conservation of environment and wildlife in the state, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had reiterated that the state government will conserve forest and it will not just remain lip service.
“Forests are an important part of our lives. We cannot act only as per our convenience; we talk about global warming but hack trees on the other hand. This is not correct. The forest we have must be conserved and expanded. The wildlife in the forests follow the law of nature and they follow it. We, on the other hand, make laws and rules that are convenient to us, and even break them,” Thackeray said, according to a statement from the chief minister’s office (CMO).
Aaditya Thackeray, state environment and tourism minister, who was present during the meeting, called the decisions taken in the meeting “historic”. He said, “In no other time has the environment and wildlife got so much importance that it always deserved. We are committed to being a green government and will ensure that sustainable development continues.”
Shiv Sena and environmental activism farce
Earlier this month, BMC also gave permission to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to remove over 1000 trees for Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL). As part of the plan, around 454 trees will be axed while around 550 other trees will be transplanted for the project. MTHL, also known as the Sewri-Nhava Sheva project, will connect Sewri with Nhava Sheva in Navi Mumbai through a 22-km long, 6-lane highway bridge over the Arabian sea.
This move comes after the Shiv Sena ‘saving’ the trees in Aarey milk colony by cancelling the metro car shed project which was to be established there. In the run-up to the Maharashtra Assembly elections, the Shiv Sena had fiercely protested the project in order to save the ‘Aarey forest’. This was despite the clearance from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the nod of the Bombay High Court (BHC). After coming to power, the Uddhav Thackeray govt had stalled the project, and after that allotted an alternate site. But since coming to power, the Shiv Sena led govt has allowed axing of trees to make way for several other projects.
The ruling Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, which often advocates for eco-conservation by cancelling the metro project at Aarey on ‘concerns’ that trees are being cut, earlier took a U-turn by deciding to axe more than 300 trees for the construction of a metro line the elevated Metro-2A corridor between Dahisar and DN Nagar. Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray has been extremely vocal on the issues of environmental conversation. The young Sena prince had opposed the BJP government’s decision of felling of trees at Aarey Milk colony to construct a Metro shed.
However, just a month after extreme activism by Shiv Sena to impress its coalition parties – Congress and NCP, Sena had exposed its hypocrisy by ordering the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation to chop down 1,000 trees for a Bal Thackeray memorial in Priyadarshini Park. Interestingly, the environmental activists, NGOs and liberals who had hit the streets to protest against the then BJP government in the state for axing the trees at Aarey colony have now suspiciously chosen to remain silent.