Battle for Aarey: 24,000 objections won't count!

Updated: Sep 07, 2019, 07:19 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

Town Planning official says objections to Metro Bhavan in Aarey will not count if they were sent via email and wants hard copies to be sent. The only silver lining is citizens have one more month

Battle for Aarey: 24,000 objections won't count!
Save Aarey campaign

Save AareyEmails that concerned citizens have so far sent to object to the construction of Metro Bhavan at Aarey Colony, whose groundbreaking ceremony Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend today, will not be accepted. Deputy Director, Town Planning, Uttareshwar Londhe told mid-day on Friday that objections need to be sent to his office in hard copy.

At a time when both central and state governments are touting Digital India and when Modi will be in the city, critics feel these are stalling tactics by officials.

The only silver lining is that the citizens still have one more month to put forth their suggestions and objections on the notification for Aarey Colony's land-use change.

mid-day had reported on Wednesday about the MMRDA's plan to construct the Metro Rail Bhavan to manage all upcoming Metro lines in Aarey Colony by changing the land use from No Development Zone to Residential Zone. According to the notice that was published on August 6, the suggestions and objections were to be given within a month.

However, on Friday, officials told mid-day that the deadline for sending suggestions and objections will be triggered only after the notification of the government is printed and published in newspapers, which is yet to be done. The notification is expected next week. While citizens will get a month from the date of its publication, they cannot send it via email.

Also Read: Mumbai: Row over Aarey Colony puts focus back on Kanjurmarg

"The last date for suggestions and objections will come in only after the printed notification is published," said Londhe. "Emails will not be accepted but whatever hard copy letters have come in so far, we will consider those even if the official acceptance date is not yet out."

The August 6 notification saw activists calling for a mass movement, where thousands of emails were sent to authorities, objecting the proposal. This resulted in 24,000 emails being sent, but none of them will be accepted.

Citizens formed a human chain in protest at Aarey to save the green lung earlier this month. Pic/ Sameer Markande

"This is completely wrong and unfair to those who have registered their protest," said Yash Marwah, of Let India Breathe, a website that allowed people to send their objections using their own email IDs. "So much for a digital India. The emails should be accepted as not many have time to go in person to hand deliver it."

Also Read: War to save Aarey enters next phase: Birders join battle to save green lung

Nishant Bangera, another citizen activist who has been actively participating in the protest, said, "All of this is just to dissuade citizens from even raising their objections. I took about 27 letters to the office of the deputy director on Friday. First, he was not ready to accept them, and then, when officials accepted, they said many letters did not have signatures, even though they had detailed addresses, names and phone numbers. Then the officers said the people who want to object should come in person. Why would everyone come if one person can deliver it all. I fail to understand why they can't simply accept emails."

As such, only those objections and suggestions deemed fit by officials will be heard by the Town Planning Department. Activists pointed out that 82,000 objections to Aarey tree cutting were not considered by the authorities.

Also Read: We need insight on alternative Metro car shed sites

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