Mumbai: Activists allege authorities have hacked away trees at Aarey illegally

Aug 04, 2017, 08:07 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Environmental activists are seeing red over yet more loss of green cover because of Metro 3. Alleging that the authorities have already hacked away at the tree cover illegally over a period of six months

Satellite images of the site show how the tree cover has reduced since last year
Satellite images of the site show how the tree cover has reduced since last year

Environmental activists are seeing red over yet more loss of green cover because of Metro 3. Alleging that the authorities have already hacked away at the tree cover illegally over a period of six months, the eco-warriors are now up in arms against a notice about cutting 49 more trees for the Metro casting yard.

These trees are to be cut on a three-hectare plot near the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road, but activists have argued that this is illegal because the area falls under a No Development Zone (NDZ), where no construction activity is allowed.

It was the BMC's Tree Authority that issued the notice in an English newspaper on June 24, inviting suggestions and objections from the public regarding the proposed cutting of 49 trees at the site. Earlier, there was a cement plant at the same plot.

Environmentalists have provided satellite images of the site to show how the tree cover has visibly reduced from November 2016 to May 2017, indicating that several trees had been axed.

Activist Zoru Bhathena said, "It is clear that several trees have been illegally hacked at this site and now Metro authorities want to cut the remaining 49 trees too. It is extremely sad to see how the authorities are hacking the tree cover under the pretext of Metro work."

Environmentalist Stalin D from Vanashakti said, "The satellite imagery clearly shows more trees at the spot before January 2016. The cement plant operator who was at the site was polluting the area, but had not destroyed any trees. The primary question is that when the land is an NDZ, how did the BMC even issue a notice to cut the few remaining trees?"

A spokesperson from the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) said, "No tree is cut without approval of the competent authority and without putting mitigation mechanism in place. Tree cutting/ transplantation proposal for 3 ha plot is duly submitted to the Tree Authority and is under process."

Jitendra Pardeshi, superintendent of gardens, BMC, was unavailable for comment.

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