Mona Ambegaonkar urges people to protest against Metro car shed

The forest has 34 types of wild flower and 76 species of birds. (Inset) Mona Ambegaonkar at a Save Aaray protest march
The forest has 34 types of wild flower and 76 species of birds. (Inset) Mona Ambegaonkar at a Save Aaray protest march

While the state government seems to be keen on constructing the Metro car shed at Aarey Milk Colony, actor and activist Mona Ambegaonkar is no mood to give in. The actor is garnering support to hold a protest camp at the site to oppose the move. She feels the agitation will put pressure on authorities to take notice.

"I am not against the public transportation projects, but against the destruction of green cover to construct a car depot for Metro line-3. The only way to protect the green cover at Aarey from getting destroyed is by coming together in large numbers," she said.

Ambegaonkar, who has been known for taking potshots at the government and planners through social networking sites, has posted a message on the Save Aarey Milk Colony page on Facebook, exhorting members to camp at the project site for a month. The page has over 15,000 members currently.

"How many in this group are willing to camp at Aarey for the next one month? Take up the Chipko Movement seriously. Bring your tents and sleeping bags. Bring your portable cooking gas stoves on site and guard the trees there day and night. For at least a month.

"Make it so big that even international media has to take notice. Do we have the guts and the conviction? Will at least a 1,000 come forward and keep their word till the end?" reads Ambegaonkar's post.

In order to discuss the strategy of the protest, Ambegaonkar and other citizens will have a meeting today at Aarey.

Gathering steam
Ever since the announcement of the proposed car depot for the Colaba- Bandra — Seepz metro line three at Aarey Milk Colony two years ago, activists and citizens have been fighting to save over 2000 trees that are in danger of being axed.

The protests led the government to form a committee of experts to suggest an alternate location. While the committee chose Kanjurmarg as an option, the government declined the suggestion citing the land was not suited for the project. The activists have also approached National Green Tribunal and the matter is being heard.

A section of citizens also believe that it's time that the protest goes beyond slactivism. K Dubey who has been supporting the cause said, "We need to take action. If a person can spare at least 2-4 hours from their daily routine, it is possible to have a group of 200-300 people camp at the car depot site for a month considering there are over 16 thousand members on the Save Aarey page and Aarey conservation group on Facebook," he said.

Rs 23,136 CR
Cost of the project

2,298
Number of trees that could be axed

Let them breathe

According to a study by researchers, Rajesh Sanap and Zeeshan Mirza, Aarey Milk Colony has 76 different species of birds, 86 species of butterflies, 13 species of amphibians, 38 types of reptiles, 19 types of spiders and 34 various types of wild flowers. The study has been conferred with the state government’s Srushti Mitra award.

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