Taken aback by the Metro authorities declaring that Aarey Colony is not a forest, environmentalists now fear that the authorities framing the city’s new Development Plan (DP) might in turn conclude that Aarey no longer needs to be marked as a Green Zone or a No Development Zone (NDZ).
In order to prevent the green haven being stripped of this protection, activists intend to meet the state-appointed official overseeing the new DP’s preparation.
mid-day had carried a front-page report about the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation’s intervention application to the National Green Tribunal, asking for permission to build the car depot for Metro III in Aarey, which it said was ‘not a forest by dictionary meaning or otherwise’ (‘Aarey no forest, just a piece of government land’, November 24).
After this, activists are concerned that the awaited DP might clear development projects in Aarey, which is currently marked as an eco-sensitive area where development is not allowed. They will soon seek an appointment with Ramnath Jha, a retired IAS officer who is on special deputation to oversee the revision of the DP.
“The members of the Save Aarey and Save Aarey Conservation groups will soon seek an official appointment with Ramnath Jha and will request that the entire Aarey Milk Colony be marked as both, a green zone and NDZ in the revised DP,” said environmentalist Rishi Aggarwal.
Activists will argue in favour of more open and green spaces in the DP, particularly Aarey Colony, where they do not want either the Metro or any other project. “We will explain to Mr Jha that we not only oppose the Metro in Aarey, but are also against the plan to build an international zoo there,” said a member of the Save Aarey movement.
Reacting to the mounting opposition to both these projects, an IAS officer said, “We want the land in Aarey for a project that will solve the transportation problem in the city. Despite this, the environmentalists are opposed to it. I just want to ask these so-called activists what have they done to prevent the illegal encroachment that is taking place in Aarey?”