Mumbai: Declare Aarey a forest, need environment-friendly policies, say activists

Updated: Nov 30, 2019, 08:09 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Green activist Zoru Bhathena said that he now hoped for Aarey to be declared a forest, as activist and filmmaker Ashoke Pandit agreed.

The HC-appointed tree committee visited seven sites; mid-day reported on October 10 about the concerns that transplants performed by Metro are failing
The HC-appointed tree committee visited seven sites; mid-day reported on October 10 about the concerns that transplants performed by Metro are failing

The chief minister's decision to halt the Aarey car shed construction has been welcomed by the city's nature-lovers who are now hoping that the government completely scraps the car depot and moves it out of Aarey.

Aarey Conservation Group member and Environmentalist Stalin D said, "It has been a long battle of five years for Vanashakti and the citizens from 2014. Five years of the relentless effort to save Mumbai's forest has not been in vain. We are deeply thankful to the leaders who supported the cause of Save Aarey. Mumbai can have its Metro and Aarey too. This is a huge expose against the Fadnavis government which lied continuously that Aarey was the only place for the car shed. It is a historical moment for Mumbaikars."

Another member Radhika Jhaveri, however, sounded slightly cautious, as she said that one could only "believe their intentions when they actually do it – move the car shed out, cancel all projects and declare it a forest and bring environmentally-friendly policies into effect."

Green activist Zoru Bhathena said that he now hoped for Aarey to be declared a forest, as activist and filmmaker Ashoke Pandit agreed. "We also demand the transfer of Ashwini Bhide who is responsible for this massacre of Aarey forest," he added.

AAP weighs in on Aarey Metro

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) too welcomed the CM's move. "It is a welcome first step towards environmental conservation in Mumbai's fragile ecology. Aarey needs to be declared a forest and all proposed activity, be it the zoo or the Metro Bhavan, needs to be cancelled," Preeti Sharma Menon, national executive member, AAP, said, while reminding Thackeray of his pre-electoral promises. Ruben Mascarenhas, AAP national joint secretary, added, "We demand strict action and removal of incompetent government officers like Ashwini Bhide and the BMC's Tree Authority, who not only lied but also targeted activists. We demand action against police personnel who illegally conducted a lathi-charged on a peaceful protest."

- Hemal Ashar

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