Mumbai: Former environment minister jumps into 'Save Aarey' fray
Jairam Ramesh, on a visit to Aarey Milk Colony, urges Shiv Sena to act, and not just speak on the issue
Former Union Minister for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday visited the Aarey Milk Colony along with Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam and extended his support to the Save Aarey cause. Ramesh also appealed to the government that the car depot be shifted out of Aarey in the interest of public and protection of the rich biodiversity. While appreciating the fact that Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray had taken up the cause, Ramesh said they should also act on it. Ramesh also urged Prime Narendra Modi to intervene given his love for the environment.
"This is an opportunity for the PM to act on what he speaks about the environment," Ramesh said. Along with Nirupam, Ramesh also met activists who have been opposing the Metro car shed. he also interacted with the local tribals on Tuesday afternoon and also said that if the Congress came to power again in Maharashtra, "we would move the car shed out of Aarey to an alternative location.
"The former minister also reminisced his days of visiting Aarey Milk Colony as an IIT Powai student. "I used to visit Aarey Milk Colony regularly. Around 35 years ago, Salim Ali (renowned ornithologist) had written a letter to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi highlighting the importance of Aarey and why it needed to be protected. Indira ji had also written to the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra Vasantdada Patil conveying the message," recalled Ramesh.
At a press conference at the VIP Guest House in Aarey Milk Colony, Ramesh said that the issue was not just about the cutting of trees but about the entire biodiversity at Aarey. "I would like to appeal to the government to move the car depot to an alternative location outside Aarey Milk Colony. It's not just about Metro project but what if the project comes here, it will open the doors of Aarey to other developmental projects," he said.
Don't make a prestige issue
Environmentalist Stalin D also gave a presentation to Ramesh highlighting the biodiversity at Aarey. The Congress leader, who claimed that he had proposed declaring Aarey as an eco-sensitive zone in 2010, said that only talking of conservation wasn't enough. "I appeal to the Shiv Sena to speak to their alliance partner (BJP). We are not at all against the Metro or development, but it cannot be at the cost of the environment. There are alternatives in place. No one should make this a prestige issue. My way or the highway is a wrong attitude," Ramesh insisted.
Years when Jairam Ramesh was the Environment Minister
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