Aarey Metro car shed moved to Kanjurmarg: Wildlife experts hail CM Uddhav Thackeray's announcement
While experts welcome Maharashtra chief minister's decision to shift the Metro car shed from Aarey to Kanjurmarg, it may be noted that mid-day has been highlighting the importance of saving the biodiversity in Aarey Milk Colony for years
In what can be termed as a very big victory for Mumbai-based environment and wildlife lovers, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday announced the scrapping of Metro car shed at Aarey Milk Colony and said the project will be relocated to Kanjurmarg.
While addressing the state via live video chat, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced that the car depot from Aarey will be shifted to Kanjurmarg and he thanked Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Finance Minister Balasaheb Thorat , Environment and Tourism minister Aditya Thackeray and his other colleagues in the government for supporting this decision. Thackeray also said that the 600 acres reserved forest in Aarey has now been expanded to 800 acres.
People from all walks of life, including politicians, movie stars, environmentalists and wildlife experts welcomed the Maharashtra government's decision of moving the Metro car shed from Aarey Colony to Kanjurmarg.
Environmentalist Stalin D from NGO Vanashakti, who is also the member of Aarey conservation group said, "We thank the honorable Chief Minister, the forest minister, the environment minister and the MVA govt for fulfilling their promise. This is a economically, ecologically and logistically a wise decision and a win win formula that was being deliberately ignored by the previous government for reasons difficult to understand. The blackmail of Aarey or Metro has ended. It is Aarey and Metro now."
A leopard at Aarey Milk Colony. Pic: Ranjeet Jadhav
Green Activist Zoru Bhathena said, " We are thrilled to hear that the Govt has agreed that there is an easy way to move the Depot out of Aarey. Citizens will get the priceless benefit of better Metro connectivity. Govt will benefit from life long cost savings from merging depots. Mumbaikars will forever benefit from the preservation of the Aarey Forest. The only question that remains unanswered is why the previous government refused to act for the overall benefit of Mumbai when all these benefits were known way back in 2015 itself."
Environmentalist Anand Pendharkar from NGO SPROUTS said, "This also goes to show that if managing politicians have the intention, even badly design infrastructure can be changed to safeguard local ecosystems and that it could be sent back to the drafting tables. Also this is how democracy survives and succeeds. This has TRULY been a citizens' movement, where advertising professionals, artists, musicians, tribals, legal eagles, children, youth, senior citizens and researchers, ecologists, architects, planners, media professionals be it from print, radio or television media, played very strong roles in keeping the discussion alive, bringing out the nuances of the bad planning process and showed how we all can participate in protecting our own planet."
Congress party member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) from Karnataka and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh took to Twitter to congratulate Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray for relocating the Metro car shed from Aarey.
I applaud Uddhav Thackeray-ji for finally deciding on this and saving the Aarey ecosystem, so valuable to Mumbaikars. I grew up in this area and I am very well aware of its value.https://t.co/YDTQt50XGb— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) October 11, 2020
Environmentalists and animal experts have been protesting against the proposed car shed site for Metro at Aarey for years stating that the area was a wildlife zone and the construction of the Metro car shed will destroy the animal corridor.
It may be noted that time and again mid-day has been highlighting the importance of saving the biodiversity in Aarey Milk Colony. The newspaper has consistently over the years reported about the the wildlife sightings and new scientific discoveries that have taken place in Aarey Milk Colony when authorities in the earlier government had allegedly denied the existence of wildlife in the area.
In February 2020, mid-day had reported the concerns of wildlife lovers and researchers about the proposed shifting of the car shed from Aarey Milk Colony to Royal Palms stating that the move will destroy the animal corridor used by leopards and other fauna between the sites. Read the story
On September 12, 2019, mid-day did a story based on a report prepared by a city-based NGO — Empower Foundation about the evidence of 290 species of animals inside Aarey Milk colony. The report was sent to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The most concerning aspect of the report was that the Aarey forest was home to five species (including leopards), which had mention in the IUCN Red List, that means the species were inching towards becoming endangered. Read the full story
In 2016, mid-day had reported (Mumbai Metro changes its spots, wants to now go after Royal Palms plot) in which it was stated that the private land at Royal Palms that the state government was eyeing for the car shed, is a hitherto unknown wildlife corridor between Film City and Aarey Milk Colony that sees daily leopard activity.
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