Aarey Forest-Mumbai Metro Controversy is currently the biggest issue for environmentalist in Mumbai.
India’s biggest urban city, Mumbai hardly has a patch of greenery today. The Aarey forest in the northern suburbs is the only remaining forested land in the city’s suburbs. Hence, Aarey is called the lungs of Mumbai.
Over years, this patch of remaining Aarey forest is also being eaten up by Mumbai’s population. The expansion of the Mumbai Metro may come at the cost of reducing the forested area further and causing the cutting of more than 2600 trees at Aarey Forest.
Background Of Mumbai Metro
The Mumbai Metro project was stalled in 2019 after Uddhav Thakeray led Maharastrian Government halted this project to save the Aarey forest after the environmentalists highlighted the environmental impacts of the project. However, with a change in the Maharashtra Government, the metro project is once again revived.
Though the land was available in the nearby Kanjurmarg area, shifting the depot to Kanjurmarg will cause an additional time and cost escalation of the project, which the current Government wants to avoid.
Alternative For Mumbai Metro Project
Aarey forest could be saved while creating the Mumbai metro depot as was done for the Kolkata Noapara depot. However, once the Mumbai Metro acquired the forested land, they have already felled 98% of the trees, and hence, one may argue that the forest is already lost.
Environmentalists do not support the felling of the trees, even when the depot land was acquired, as according to many environmentalists, an environmental impact assessment was not properly made. However, the Mumbai Metro authorities have made it clear that tree felling is essential to make the Mumbai Metro 2a and 7 properly functioning.
Current Situation of Aarey Forest
Now that the Aarey depot project has been revived, the latest Aarey forest news is that residents of Mumbai fear that the last traces of the Aarey colony will soon be cleared. Kanjurmarg, a good alternative, is rejected only due to additional costs and the time frame of work. Thousands of protesters hit the streets of Mumbai to save the Aarey forest, Aarey Milk colony.
However, this current Eknath Sinde-Fadnavis-led Government is not looking to step backwards anytime soon to make sure the Mumbai Metro Train is up and running with minimum coat and as soon as possible before the next election kicks in. People of Aarrey Milk Colony are still continuing the protests, albeit on a limited scale.
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