Mumbai: Aarey Colony CEO in graft net; activists say bring back previous one

27 May,2021 04:54 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Ranjeet Jadhav

Nathu Rathod’s predecessor, Gajanan Raut, was known for his no-nonsense, diligent work in protecting the forest; he was transferred in 2016 for action against illegal encroachment, activists say

Former Aarey CEO Gajanan Raut and Nathu Rathod

Bring back previous Aarey CEO! After the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested CEO of Aarey Milk Colony Nathu Rathod and his peon while accepting a bribe of Rs 50,000, city-based green activists have urged that the government should appoint the earlier CEO, Gajanan Raut, who is known to be a no-nonsense officer.

After Rathod was caught red-handed on Monday, the ACB, during a search of his house on Tuesday, also recovered Rs 3.5 crore in cash.

Cash recovered from Nathu Rathod*s residence

Environmentalist Stalin D said, "Previous CEO Gajanan Raut had undertaken drives to remove illegal encroachments and was proactive in protecting the trees. He also took steps to revive the Aarey Dairy. But it*s clear now that he was not seen as being in tune with the demands of vested interests. Hopefully, henceforth the MVA government will appreciate the work of honest officers and appoint them in important roles. It was deeply saddening to see slums proliferating, trees being felled and land being grabbed in the Aarey forests. Numerous complaints fell on deaf years and now we demand a detailed investigation into all the entities involved in the Aarey land scam. It is impossible that the CEO was acting alone."

Also Read: Aarey Colony handover to forest department to be done before monsoon: Officials

‘Raut can protect Aarey*

Many activists and nature lovers have taken to social media to express their demands.

Raut was transferred from the CEO*s post in 2016. The transfer of an officer known for the demolition of over 300 hutments did not go down well with nature and wildlife lovers. They had unsuccessfully appealed to the then CM Devendra Fadnavis to reinstate him.

Green activist Zoru Bhathena said, "Aarey is a pot of gold for our city*s environment and unfortunately, for corrupt officials too. Bringing back the previous CEO, Raut, who was known to be honest and diligent, will do much good in protecting Aarey."

Raut had also taken the bold decision to close internal roads in Aarey at night for outside vehicles to protect wildlife. This had met opposition from motorists as many take the internal Aarey roads to escape the traffic on the main road. Raut, however, remained firm. The decision was reversed when Rathod took charge.

‘Worked along with citizens*

Environmentalist Rohit Joshi said, "Raut not only supported but also joined citizens in initiatives for Aarey. Be it a plantation drive or cleanup drive, tree appreciation walks - he was always seen participating along with his wife and children. Aarey Mahotsav organised by the ACG (Aarey Conservation Group) wouldn*t have been the huge success it was without his active support. He was removed because he took strong action against illegal encroachments and slums. We demand that Raut be made the Aarey CEO again."

Nature lover Cassandra Nazareth said, "Raut should definitely be reinstated as he is an honest officer. I have met him numerous times as part of my work with the tribal women of Aarey and he was very helpful. I remember his pre-monsoon work of putting mud around tree roots because of which we saved many trees. After he was transferred, each rainy season, we have lost so many giant trees along the roadside and no tree maintenance was done at all."

Rs 50k
Amount Nathu Rathod accepted as bribe

Rs 3.5cr
Amount recovered
from Rathod*s residence by ACB

anti-corruption bureau aarey colony mumbai crime news mumbai mumbai news
Related Stories