In a major setback for the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), an affidavit (copy available with mid-day) filed by the Ministry of Environment and Forest before the National Green Tribunal yesterday states that it has proposed the area of up to four kilometres from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) be earmarked as Eco-Sensitive Area (ESA). To MMRC’s dismay, the entire Aarey Milk Colony falls under this classification.
Time and again, residents and activists have produced pictures to prove that Aarey supports wildlife. Pic/Imran Udat
The MoEF submitted affidavit on behalf of respondent number 1, wherein it stated that the submission was being made in is being filed in compliance of the NGT order dated January 13, 2015.
In August 2015, mid-day had reported about the order in which the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had directed the BMC to deny NOC for new constructions in Aarey.
It also directed the civic body to take immediate action against illegal constructions.
Excerpts from the affidavit
>> The ministry received the revised proposal with respect to declaration of eco-sensitive zone around SGNP in the state of Maharashtra vide their letter dated November 4, 2015. The revised proposal was prepared by the state government after taking field verification.
>> The proposal of the state government has been subsequently processed for seeking the approval of the competent authority which has since been obtained and the proposal has now been sent to ministry of Law & Justice for legal vetting.
>> That it has been informed by the state government that entire Aarey colony forms part of the proposed ESA around SGNP.
>> That with reference to the declaration of the Aarey colony covering the area of 1,280 hectares as ‘forest land’ under forest conservation act, 1980, it is submitted that the ministry in consultation with the governments/union territories has formulated draft parameters for classification of an area as forest under the forest (conservation) act. These parameters are in final stage of examination before they are filed before the supreme court for their approval. Once the approval is obtained then a decision to apply these parameters in the context of the Aarey land could be taken up.