The Save Aarey Milk Colony movement, to oppose taking over a part of the land to make way for a Metro Line III car shed, is gathering steam, with activists set to stage a mammoth protest on the lines of the Chipko movement on Sunday, February 15.
They are encouraging people from all walks of life to go embrace trees in the colony on the day to prevent them from being cut. Says Rishi Aggarwal, of Save Aarey, “We have started spreading the word and asking people to come to T-Junction (Picnic Spot) at Aarey, where we will gather at 9.30 am.
Once there are a substantial number of people, we will begin the protest, wherein people are going to hug trees, giving out the message that we have to save these trees and this land.” Aggarwal says that they hope to have at least 2,000 to 3,000 people on Sunday, and the protest is “open to the public, nature lovers, NGOs, activists, simply everyone”.
The event is from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm. “People can spare whatever time they are able to for the movement 15 minutes, an hour or much more. We plan to be there the whole day so that people can come in within these hours to show solidarity.” While the initiative is a one-off for now, Aggarwal claims they will keep up the momentum “by having two or three such protests in the month.”
Says Anand Pendharkar, activist, “I want to tell people who do not have time to do anything for Save Aarey and all green spaces in general, that one day they can go and buy oxygen cylinders and go to work.”
“I know when a couple of online sites had their massive sales, people actually did not go to work and sat at home doing online shopping. If they can cut work for that, they can surely spare a few hours for Save Aarey,” said Pendharkar, who believes it takes eternal vigilance to stop green spaces from disappearing..
In the end, he stated that people needed to inculcate a sense of inclusiveness, “You cannot say, oh I do not live close to Aarey, so this does not affect me. There are people who say, Oh, Goregaon? Where is that? I want to slam such snobbery. They will go to Navi Mumbai and Nagpur to watch cricket but not come here to Save Aarey,” he added.
Facebook event page: Save Aarey Protest March