Mumbai: Hello, Mr CM, please don't build Metro shed in Aarey, say citizens

Jan 20, 2018, 13:30 IST | A Correspondent

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' phone has been ringing off the hook for the past couple of days, with hundreds of citizens calling and texting him to protest the construction of Metro III's car shed in the ecologically sensitive Aarey Milk Colony

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' phone has been ringing off the hook for the past couple of days, with hundreds of citizens calling and texting him to protest the construction of Metro III's car shed in the ecologically sensitive Aarey Milk Colony. This comes just a week after 2.5 lakh protestors joined a missed call campaign to save Aarey. In the two days since the campaign began on Thursday, hundreds of people have sent messages of protest to CM Devendra Fadnavis and other city authorities, while 265 people have called on his office landline (see box).

Also read - Mumbai: Over a lakh sign online petition to save Aarey Milk Colony

Thousands of trees in Aarey Colony are at the risk of being axed
Thousands of trees in Aarey Colony are at the risk of being axed

Telephone campaign
The Aarey Conservation Group (ACG) called for this telephone campaign in collaboration with the online petition platform, Jhatka.org. The website circulated messages on WhatsApp, appealing to people to call the Chief Minister's Office (CMO), as well as his official cell phone. The organisers similarly circulated the official contact numbers of the suburban collector Deependra Singh, as well as managing director of the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation, Ashwini Bhide.

"When I called the landline, the person attending to calls sounded highly frustrated. He asked me, 'Madam, Jhatka kya hain? Itne log phone kar rahe hain ki main kaam nahi kar paa raha hoon.' When I told him that people must be calling to show their support for Aarey, he told me to speak to the forest secretary. Finally, he connected me to the additional chief secretary, who in turn asked me to speak to the CM's private secretary," said one of the callers.

Yash Marwah from the ACG said, "In just two days of mobilisation, 265 calls have been made to these decision makers, and several hundred text messages were sent to them, asking them to not cut Aarey forest. As of right now, all phone lines to the CM's office have been closed. We are redirecting calls to Ashwini Bhide's private and office numbers."

'We won't stop'
Marwah added, "A member from Aarey Conservation group called the CMO's landline and spoke to a frustrated operator who was inundated with calls the entire day. This shows that citizens are ready to engage directly with government officials to protect Mumbai's trees. They will do whatever it takes to stop Aarey forest from being cut down."

The ACG has alleged that Aarey's status has been changed from public land to commercial use without due public consultation, even though the land falls under the ambit of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The group has filed a case with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to contest the change in land use.

Members of the ACG told mid-day that since Friday morning, many people had also sent the follwing text message to the CM: "Dear CM Fadnavis, I, as a Save Aarey member, would like to know why Mumbai's Aarey forest land has been converted from public to commercial without following due process. Why was the public not consulted before making this change? Why Kanjurmarg is not considered as an alternative site where the Metro shed can easily be built? I oppose this project in its current form. I urge you to make a public statement confirming the same."

City girl's campaign
The missed call campaign started last month to save Aarey was floated by Mansi Singh, a student from Mumbai. Since December, the petition has witnessed incredible traction, with over 2.5 lakh people making missed calls to register their protest. "We cannot afford to lose our cities' green cover, especially since air pollution in Mumbai hit an all-time high this winter. MMRCL is still hell bent on cutting down trees to build a Metro car shed," said Singh.

Call him maybe
>> You can call the Chief Minister's Office on 022-33721581 to register your protest
>> Or, sign an online petition at goo.gl/hQymWQ

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