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Why saving Aarey forest is important for Mumbai

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Mumbai, Sep 12: The battle to save the 1,300 hectare Aarey forest land, Mumbai's last green lung in the northern suburb, Goregaon continues. The Maharashtra government is mulling to provide a part of this ecologically sensitive zone for a Metro car shed, invoking strong protest by environmentalists and citizens' groups.

Aaray forest

The first of these, which will open up this green lung to commercialisation, is a car shed for the upcoming Mumbai Metro 3, which is being funded by the Japanese company, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with 57% of the project cost , which is about 2,036 Million $. A car shed is nothing but a parking lot and service area for metro trains.

Save Aarey forest movement

Save Aarey forest movement

The Aarey forest used to be part of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. In 1949, after a survey by dairy development experts, 3,160 acres were pencilled off for the Aarey Milk Colony, which comprised a milk factory, pastures for cattle grazing and residential units for labourers.

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.

Save Aarey forest gets massive support

Save Aarey forest gets massive support

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Supriya Sule, Shiv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray and many Bollywood celebrities have expressed concern over the decision to cut 2700 trees for the construction.

Expressing his disappointment over the treatment of Mumbai's green cover, Thackeray stated that only Shiv Sena had refrained from supporting the chopping of trees in Aarey forest for building a car shed for the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation's Metro-3 project.

Why Aaray forest is important?

Why Aaray forest is important?

It is a well known fact that green cover in cities can help tackle rising air pollution. The Nature Conservancy's study reports how urban trees can remove up to a quarter of PM pollution within a few meters, and can even function as a barrier for local residents, filtering bad air.

A study published in The Nature Conservancy says urban trees can remove as much as a quarter of the particulate matter pollution within a few meters, and when planted in the right places, can offer a very effective barrier, filtering bad air and protecting local residents. It adds that cities with high population density, high levels pollution and heat, and a low cost of planting trees showed the highest return on investment - Delhi ranked third among 245 countries that would have the highest return on investment (ROI) in reducing particulate matter, Mumbai fifth and Ahmedabad seventh. In terms of ROI in reducing heat, Mumbai ranked number 2.

Are people against metro in Mumbai?

Are people against metro in Mumbai?

Activists say that they are not against the expansion of the metro in Mumbai, but an ecologically sensitive area like Aarey forest, which functions are the largest natural air purifier for the city, cannot be cleared for the metro car shed. There are plenty of non-residential, and industrial locations for the metro car shed to be constructed but, not at the cost of Mumbai's lungs. The MMRCL went ahead without waiting for the National Green Tribunal to pass its verdict on declaring Aarey as a forest.

If enough people lend their voice to our fight for clean air, we can put pressure on the CM to relocate the metro car shed, the activists say.

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