Five-year-olds' Save Aarey campaign finds a new supporter

Updated: Sep 15, 2019, 15:04 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Three young activists presented a report pointing to evidence of wildlife in Aarey to Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray

(L-R) Aaditya Thackeray with Arjun Mehta, Siddhant Kothari and Saisha Kothari
(L-R) Aaditya Thackeray with Arjun Mehta, Siddhant Kothari and Saisha Kothari

Five-year-old Arjun Mehta and his friends Siddhant Kothari and Saisha Kothari who had appeared in a video requesting PM Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to Save Aarey on Friday met Yuva Sena Chief Aaditya Thackeray. They shared with him a copy of the report that was submitted by a city-based NGO Empower Foundation to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The report points to evidence of wildlife in Aarey.

The three five-year-olds have been involved in calling attention to Aarey's wildlife since 2016. When he was just two-and-a-half years old Mehta had recorded a video appealing to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra to save Aarey. In March 2019, Mehta and his friends reiterated their request to PM Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe (Japan International Cooperation Agency has provided a loan of R6,000 crore for the second tranche of the Colaba-Seepz Metro 3 project) in another video that went viral at the time. In the video they'd had highlighted the biodiversity of Aarey which includes nine leopards amongst 290 species of wild animals and birds.

Mehta's mother, Sheetal Mehta said: "We were amazed to learn how much Aaditya knew about Aarey and its biodiversity including the names and locations of the leopards. We are very optimistic that he will make efforts to save Aarey." His father, Jalpesh Mehta who also runs the NGO Empower Foundation and was present during the interaction, told mid-day that Aaditya interacted with kids for close to an hour.

Saisha's father Riddhish Kothari added: "Aaditya Thackeray is an inspiration for young children and understands the importance of Aarey as the green lungs of Mumbai. He also talked about other options that can be made available for the metro car shed and assured that Aarey should get notified as a forest." The BMC's Tree Authority recently approved cutting of 2,702 trees in Aarey for making a metro shed for the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz metro line three. Activists have been against the construction of car depot in Aarey saying that it will have negative impact on the biodiversity of the area.

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