Representatives of Aarey colony on Monday informed BMC that they are against the cutting of trees in Aarey to accommodate the proposed car shed for the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro project.
This move comes after the department had put up notices on trees in Aarey last week, stating that around 2,298 are sought to be cut.
MMRDA has planned a 33.5 km underground line, whose car shed has been proposed in Aarey Colony, where maximum number of trees will be cut. The letter addressed to the civic body’s superintendent of gardens, Vijay Hire, said, “We request that no permission be given for cutting of trees for the Metro car shed till further public discourse on this matter. All local residents are opposed to this and change in alignment is suggested.”
Residents and environmentalists got together on Sunday to discuss the issue and collected around 300 signatures for the letter. A change.org petition on the same issue also gathered around 2,000 signatures.
“We do not want Aarey’s greenery to make way for a developed concrete jungle. We want the civic body to retain the green space,” said Manish Sethi, who is associated with the ‘Save Aarey’ community, a group of concerned citizens working to retain Aarey’s green space. Officials of the BMC, however, claimed that of the 2,298 trees in Aarey marked by the gardens department, around 2,000 would be transplanted and the remaining would be cut.
But environmentalists are skeptical of transplantation. “The survival rates of transplanted trees in the city are dismal. Moreover, trees that were to be transplanted as a result of several infrastructure projects is still not done,” said environmentalist Rishi Aggarwal, a researcher with Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a thinktank.
According to norms, for every one tree cut, three trees have to be replanted. The survival rate of transplanted trees is dismal as the gardens department officials do not follow-up to check if the trees are being replanted or transplanted and there is no penalty imposed on those who fail to transplant trees,” he said, adding that the department is not even aware if MMRDA or Metro authorities have transplanted the 912 trees removed to make way for the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar (VAG) corridor.
Meanwhile, Hire assured that the notices are only meant to inform the public and the proposal to cut trees has not been approved by the Tree Authority. “We will certainly hold public hearings and take the residents’ views,” he said.