MMRC sets aside Rs 10 lakh to water Aarey saplings

Facing protest from environmentalists, the agency has floated tenders inviting bidders for the upkeep of the 50 saplings planted by it at the plot in Aarey

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation limited (MMRC) has floated tenders on Thursday for maintenance of the saplings planted in Aarey colony, near the controversial car depot plot. The agency, a joint venture of the state and Central governments, has earmarked Rs 10L as an annual expenditure for the maintenance work.

Residents of Aarey Milk Colony have been waging a battle to stop the construction of the Metro yard in the green lungs of Aarey. File pic
Residents of Aarey Milk Colony have been waging a battle to stop the construction of the Metro yard in the green lungs of Aarey. File pic

“Tenders have been invited for maintenance of the saplings for a period of one year. We do not want any more protest by the environmentalist groups,” said an MMRC officer, on condition of anonymity, referring to the heavy protest launched by several citizen groups almost two years ago against the construction of the car depot for Metro line 3 (Colaba to Seepz via Bandra) in Aarey since some 2,298 trees need to be cut for the construction.

The State government initially had approved the Aarey land that is more than 30 hectares for the depot, but after the protest lodged by locals and environmentalists — Save Aarey and Aarey conservation group among others — they are now mulling to search for other alternatives.

Apart from the building up of the depot, the groups are also agitated about the way the saplings have been planted.

“There is not enough space for the saplings to grow properly. Trees that grow to have 30-feet canopy should not be planted within a distance of less than 10-feet, which MMRC has not followed,” said Stalin D, member of Aarey Conservation Group member and owner of NGO Vanashakti.

Exotic species
The 50 saplings, mostly belonging to exotic species (see box) went dry within a month of planting since the climate was not suitable for their growth. MMRC planted the saplings in February last year, which was termed hogwash by the green activists.

“Rather than planting saplings and spending on its maintenance, the administration should think on shifting the location of the car depot where the government would not have to axe any tree,” said researcher and naturalist Rajesh Sanap, who had documented the biodiversity of Aarey.

MMRC’s saplings
>> Bixa orellana (Shendri), native to tropical America.
>> Tanebuia Rosea (Trumpet) from Brazil
>> Swietenia mahagoni (Mahogany) from Africa
>> Mango and Neolamarckia cadamba (Kadam) from Konkan

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