Mumbai: Activists appeal to citizens to protest against felling of over 2,000 trees

After months of debate with environmental activists, the BMC will finally decide today whether it will go ahead with its plan to cut 2,298 trees in Aarey Milk Colony to make space for the car depot for the Metro line III (Colaba-Bandra Seepz corridor).

Schoolkids and their parents participate in a campaign to save trees at Aarey Milk Colony. File pic
Schoolkids and their parents participate in a campaign to save trees at Aarey Milk Colony. File pic

With the decision now imminent, activists have now appealed to citizens to protest against the plan, by calling or sending messages to the officials. Members of the group ‘Save Aarey Milk Colony’ have opposed the plan for months, and will now make a final, concerted effort to save the trees by corresponding with the Tree Authority and the chief minister.

3,000-odd members of the group, along with their family and friends, will call or text the BMC authorities and Tree Authority members with a plea to save the trees. They are also sending post cards and signed petitions to the CM, requesting that the car depot be shifted to other locations, such as the vacant land at the Mumbai Port Trust.

They have now posted a message on their official Facebook page, listing the contact numbers of the officials and asking citizens to protest before the matter comes up for clearance in a Tree Authority meeting this afternoon. “We need to send our objections to them. SMS and call, asking them not to approve that the trees be uprooted.

We are strongly opposed to the cutting of 2,298 trees for the Metro car shed in Aarey. It is the last green, open space in Mumbai and should be retained as such,” said one of the members. Apart from these efforts, around 15-20 members from the core team of the Save Aarey Milk Colony group will visit the BMC headquarters at CST to try and meet the municipal commissioner before the Tree Authority meeting.

The group members also told mid-day that they have support from some of the Tree Auth-ority members, who will oppose the proposal to cut the trees. “The members will go to the BMC headquarters on Monday morning and will try to meet the BMC commissioner to ask him to scrap the proposal of cutting the trees at Aarey.

I don’t understand why the MMRDA does not consider shifting the car depot to another location. We will keep opposing the plan because we are concerned about the negative impact that will occur on the biodiversity in Aarey,” said Manish Seth, an active member from the group.

Want to save trees?
If you want to object to the plan of cutting 2,298 trees to make space for the Metro car depot in Aarey Milk Colony, send an SMS or call these board members of the Tree Authority:

Cyril d’Souza - 9702174534
Hanumant Raje - 9833501338 
Kamlesh Shah - 9987251113 
Manoj Kotak - 9821163742

'BMC not playing fair'
The BMC has now come under fire for allegedly sabotaging a citizen’s attempt to oppose the tree-felling proposal. Vijay Sakpal, a citizen from Kalachowki, said. “I got a call from the Garden department, saying the hearing would be held in the Byculla office on November 19, 2014.

However, on the day of the hearing, they called me again and told not to come since the garden superintendent was busy,” recalled Sakpal. “When I tried to check about the hearing, I was shocked to see they had marked me absent. I have filed a complaint against the department for not giving me a fair chance to object to the proposal.”

- Laxman Singh

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