Social media has been flooded with posts to oppose the deforestation in Aarey Milk Colony. While it is common knowledge that the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) approved felling trees to construct a Mumbai metro shed, there are still a lot of questions left unanswered. When did they make the proposal Who was on the committee that approved it What are the varied reactions it has received Here is a quick recap on everything that has happened in the Aarey Forest case.
In early August this year, a proposal was tabled to a panel of three experts from the Tree Authority (run under the BMC) for approval. The proposal made by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation was regarding felling trees in Aarey colony in order to construct a Mumbai Metro car shed. A week ago, the approval was granted to the BMC for felling 2,702 trees of which 2,238 were proposed to be cut and the rest were to be transplanted.
When it became public knowledge, the protests began immediately. This is due to the fact that in the concrete jungle that is Mumbai, Aarey Milk Colony is a treasured green patch. With increasing environmental awareness, people have come through to spread the message of conservation and stand against the opposite. Additionally, it was recently revealed that the loss of the trees will result in heavy floods at the international airport as the excess water during rainfall would be directed to Mithi river. This adds to the list of consequences we might have to face for giving up our greenery.
To add to the controversy, only a day after the proposal, one of the experts on the Tree Authority, Dr Sashirekha Sureshkumar, claimed that her vote supporting the proposal was misconstrued due to misunderstandings. The expert is the head of botany at Mithibai College. According to a report by The Times of India, she stated &ldquoThe was a lot of confusion. Some people were demanding more time. When the proposal was passed, I was under the impression that it was to take the decision later. But after some time, I realisedit was for the Metro proposal. We did not have any time to clarify as there was a lot of commotion.&rdquo
A letter by three Tree Authority Members (Sureshkumar, Dr Chandrakant Salunkhe and Deepak Apte) also claims that there are many discrepancies in the tree inventory data.
The issue has drawn a lot of attention. Many celebrities and influencers have taken social media by storm, raising their concerns regarding the matter. Celebrities such as Lata Mangeshkar, Dia Mirza, Randeep Hooda and Raveena Tandon have spoken against the deforestation. Actor Shraddha Kapoor was in fact seen at a protest against the proposal.
Following the protests, a petition filed by Zoru Darius Bathena challenged the proposal in Bombay High Court. The court has directed the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation to file in their reply to the petition.