A proposal to cut over 2,700 trees in Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon East to make way for a proposed Metro car shed for Mumbai Metro 3 — a 33.5-km-long line connecting Colaba-Bandra-Seepz — was rejected by the civic body’s Tree Authority Tuesday.
Fearing a backlash from citizens and activists, the ruling Shiv Sena along with the Congress rejected the proposal, which was tabled before the Tree Authority for final approval, at a meeting held at BMC headquarters at CSMT. Corporators will now visit the site proposed for the Metro car shed on August 21.
Sena leader and Standing Committee chairman Yashwant Jadhav said, “We will not let this proposal pass. This is a massacre of green cover without considering the concerns of citizens and environment. We have demanded a visit to the place to which the administration has agreed. We will go and see what can be done to the green cover. But Shiv Sena’s stand is clear. We are not opposing the Metro project, our opposition is only for the car shed. Why other options are not taken into consideration to shift the car shed?”
Earlier, the Sena had opposed the felling of trees in Aarey Milk Colony, while Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray had extended support to citizen’s Save Aarey Movement. But activists had accused the party of not doing enough to protect the green cover in the area.
Opposition leader Ravi Raja had also slammed corporation and opposed the proposal. “The world is facing climate change and we are not understanding the gravity of the situation and want to eliminate green cover. We are not against development, but it should not be at the cost of environment. We have opposed the move and continue the same. Also, the previous records of tree re-transplantation is very poor since hardly any trees survive,” Raja said.
Last month hundreds of citizens, activists and tribals had reached the MMRDA office in BKC and submitted their suggestions and objections to the proposal to fell trees for the Metro car shed. Around 82,000 people had also sent emails to the Tree Authority, expressing their objections against the decision to fell trees.
As per the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, when a proposal for cutting trees is tabled in the Tree Authority, the civic body has to invite suggestions and objections from the public. Following citizens’ suggestions and objections, the MMRCL had agreed to make some changes in the proposal to set up the car shed, like restricting the land use to up to 25 hectares for creating services and maintaining five hectares as green patch.
A senior official from the BMC said, “During the (Tuesday) meeting, most of the members wanted to visit the site. Now, the further decision will be taken only after the visit. Without the Tree Authority’s approval MMRCL cannot go ahead with cutting trees.”
A total of 2,702 trees were either to be cut or re-transplanted for the Metro car shed project. According to the proposal, 2,238 trees were to be cut and 464 trees re-transplanted at some other location.
Hailing the Tree Authority’s decision, Green activist Zoru Bhathena said, “We are happy with the stand was taken in favour of Aarey, which is the only green lung in city. It is every citizen’s responsibility to protect the environment.” Activists have been demanding that the Metro car shed be relocated to alternative sites to save the trees in the area.
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