Aarey forest: It's economic growth vs environmental sustainability
New Delhi, Oct 08: Aarey colony, famously known as the green lungs of Mumbai, is a suburban located in Goregaon which is also the second-largest green cover after the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
The Milk Colony, an erstwhile government-owned dairy farm, sprawls over 1,278 hectares in the city's suburbs.
However, the battle to save Mumbai's last green lung in the northern suburb, Goregaon continues.
While the Maharashtra government is mulling to provide a part of this ecologically sensitive zone for a Metro car shed, it has invoked strong protest by environmentalists and citizens' groups.
The Aarey colony protests began on October 5, 2019, after the Bombay High Court allowed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) to cut over 2,500 trees. Hours after the ruling, the Mumbai Metro had axed over 2000 trees overnight.
However, by the time the Supreme Court intervened on Monday morning, ordering the Mumbai Metro not to cut any more trees in Aarey, it was already too late.
The axing of trees had led to a series of protests across the city which resulted in the Mumbai police arresting as many as 29 protestors for allegedly obstructing and assaulting police personnel during the felling of trees, and also imposing Section 144 in Aarey Colony and the nearby areas.
For several years, the proposal to build a metro rail car shed on 30 hectares of the Aarey Colony land has faced stiff opposition from concerned citizens.
However, the chief of Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) Ashwini Bhide, who is also facing flak over the issue, termed the cutting of trees in Aarey is destruction that is 'inevitable'.
Taking to Twitter, she wrote,'' Sometimes to construct something new destruction becomes inevitable but it also paves the way for new life and new creation.''
Sometimes to construct something new destruction becomes inevitable but it also paves the way for new life and new creation. जीवन चक्र प्रवाही असते. ते एका ठिकाणी थांबत नाही. सृजनाची चाहूल पुन्हा पुन्हा लागत रहाते. नवीन पालवी फुटत रहाते. नवनिर्मिती होत रहाते. https://t.co/L6J1N57mhH— Ashwini Bhide (@AshwiniBhide) October 6, 2019
This is her second comment on Twitter to justify the cutting of trees in Aarey. She was responding to a tweet by Mumbai Metro Line 3, which claimed it had planted 24,000 trees around Aarey Milk Colony.
Meanwhile, Aarey colony protest also took a political turn with the Shiv Sena, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the opposition parties slamming the government and authorities over the tree-cutting.
Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar defended the falling of trees in Aarey, saying it was 'not a forest'. Drawing parallel lines, he reminded people that the trees had to be cut for Delhi Metro also and it was opposed by activists even then. However, the Delhi Metro today is the best of its kind in the world.
While the government has justified it by saying that the development is meant for a greater good. Now, the question arises is can development and environment co-exist?
Well, it can be recalled that former President Pranab Mukherjee had earlier mentioned during a Paris Climate Change summit that both economic development and environmental protection can co-exist.
During the Paris Climate Change conference, around 195 nations adopted a "historic" legally-binding agreement which sought to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius.
Save Aarey forest movement
The Save Aarey movement opposes the car shed construction as it will be declared a high-security area and will rob enthusiasts of one of their favourite cycling or trekking venues, not to mention the consequences of the felling of over 2,000 trees.