Aarey Forest
Aarey Forest (Image Courtesy: Shutterstock)

It’s a scary time for Mumbai residents as the Government threatens to snatch their one green pride of the city, the Aarey forest. While a lot of other cities and nations are taking giant leaps to preserve the environment and nature in the best way possible, we get to hear about cases like these, which make our heads hang in shame. As citizens of the city that never sleeps, it’s time to wake up.

What Is #SaveAarey?

Aarey Forest
Aarey Forest (Image Courtesy: Shutterstock)

This read is in regards to your current and future survival. The MMRDA and MMRC plan to construct the Metro 3 car shed and a Centralised Operation Control for the whole Mumbai Metro network at the lush green heart of Aarey forest. It is estimated that more than 3500 trees will be cut, out of which a portion will be transplanted and rest with no back-up. On the other hand, it is known that there could be seven other potential options that do not rely on deforestation that Government should consider but is ignoring them. The residents of Aarey colony, Mumbaikars, NGOs and a lot of activists have come to oppose the killing of the Aarey forest, also better known as, lungs of Mumbai.

Why Is It Important?

Let’s talk about why the opposition is much needed and why we need to not treat this as some passing and irrelevant news. It is not just a concern for the Aarey residents or the climatologists, but every single soul is going to be just as affected as the other one if this actually happens. There are endless hazards to this—air pollution, oxygen supply and a threat to the wildlife, biodiversity and a very precious, unique habitat. Chances of worrying interactions between the wildlife and human will shoot up to a great extent. The effect does not limit to just the area being uprooted but the whole city! Mumbai is not in a favourable position to undergo this damage and looking at the already degrading climate, it is nothing but an invitation to dangers that might as well lead to our extinction. Even though there are 4 lac trees and only 3500 of them are to be brought down, the aftermath does not look good. The trees are 100 years old and planting new saplings for recovery is really not a solution. We do not have 100 years for the damage control lying in our pockets, we are already too poor in this case.

What Is The Current Status?

The BMC has received over 30,000 objection letters in regards to this case. The residents of Aarey are devastated on losing the right to their own land and why wouldn’t anyone be? They have now come together with the rest of the community and professionals to fight against this. This has been the biggest public objection in the history of Mumbai and the verdict was scheduled for yesterday, 11th October. The hearing was packed with public and their unanswered questions. Some questions that were raised were aimed right at the incapacity of the government and authorities of acknowledging the importance and necessity of this nature’s gift of a green stretch but they had no comeback for many of the questions raised. The outrage was also over the fact that a few of the trees have been already cut down without the necessary permissions.

When the authorities were asked these questions by the citizens and activists during the verdict, it looked like a cat bit their tongue.

We know that trees give oxygen. You who are educated don’t acknowledge this? The trees can’t come here to register their protest.

Where I stay the temperature is 20 degrees. Outside it’s 37 degrees. You’ve turned Mumbai’s rivers into nallas. Is this development?

Apply ice to the burned area please!

In the end, Bombay High Court ordered BMC to not cut any trees as of now, until the due process is followed. This has definitely provided some relief, but the question is for how long? I think the battle hasn’t ended yet!

We stand with Aarey forest and its right to live and breathe. Let’s extend our support and raise our voice as our dear mother earth would expect us to!