July 29, 2021 2:06:36 am
The state dairy development department on Wednesday allotted five acre of land from Aarey Milk Colony for the construction of the Aarey police station, angering environmentalists who have been calling for the conservation of one of the last vestiges of open green land in space-starved Mumbai.
Additional Commissioner of Police (North) Dilip Sawant said, “The current police station is in an old bungalow near Chhota Kashmir and it is in a very bad condition. The new plot is located close to the existing police station.”
The dairy development department has said that the land on which the old police station now stands should be handed back to it.
A senior government official said that following the home department demanding the construction of a new police station, the project was sanctioned as per instructions passed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on December 28, 2020.
Concerns have been raised over the shrinking of Aarey land, which has been allotted to several agencies in the past few years for various projects. While the erstwhile BJP government had proposed to construct a Metro car shed on the land, the current Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has recently sanctioned a regional transport office for Borivali on the land.
The MVA government has also given 800 acre land from Aarey to the forest department, which will act as an extension zone for the fauna of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. About nine leopards live in the area.
Aarey Milk Colony was set up in the 1960s by combining some forest land and other patches belonging to the revenue department. Successive governments have handed over some areas to the state reserve police force and Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority for housing purposes.
When contacted, evironmentalist D Stalin of NGO Vanashakti said, “The government should not allow constructions in Aarey under the garb of utilities. This is unacceptable. Handing over five acre for a police station is preposterous.”
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