Experts and nature lovers are arming themselves with photographic evidence of a thriving wildlife corridor between Aarey Milk Colony and Film City passing through Royal Palms in Goregaon East to scuttle the Metro-III car depot project in the area.

Proof of life: Aarey Milk Colony has reported many wildlife sightings. Pic/Nayan Khanolkar
Proof of life: Aarey Milk Colony has reported many wildlife sightings. Pic/Nayan Khanolkar

The photographs will be submitted before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which will take a call on whether the car shed is feasible in that zone.

The move comes in the wake of mid-day's report yesterday that the state government is mulling over taking over a private plot of Royal Palms to set up the proposed car depot, after the ministry of forests and environment declared Aarey Milk Colony an ecologically-sensitive zone recently.

Many leopard sightings have been reported from Royal Palms and experts believe that a largely unexplored wildlife corridor exists between the Film City helipad point and Aarey Milk Colony passing via Royal Palms.

Not just leopards
Wildlife enthusiast Kaushal Dubey, who has been rescuing snakes at Aarey Milk Colony and Royal Palms for NGO SARRP (Spreading Awareness on Reptiles and Rehabilitation Programme) for the last three years, says the issue isn't limited to the leopards' lair.

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"That Royal Palms is abuzz with leopard activity is a known fact; there have been several sightings in that area and the adjacent tribal padas."

Dubey says he has rescued over 50 snakes like the Indian spectacled cobra, Russell's viper, saw-scaled viper, Indian rock python, rat snake, wine snake, bronze back tree snake, checkered keelback and common krait — a species protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 — from Royal Palms.

"I don't understand how the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation can even think about developing a car depot here."

He cautions that any new development in the area may spark human-animal conflicts. There is hardly any open space left in Mumbai. Instead of using the space left to developing more infrastructure, the government should keep it aside for recreational purpose," he suggests.