Mumbai: Metro car shed at Royal Palms will ruin wildlife corridor, say residents
Environmentalists, animal experts say area deserves to be protected, and least damaging alternative should be chosen
Wildlife lovers and researchers feel the shifting of the car shed from Aarey Milk Colony to Royal Palms will destroy the animal corridor used by leopards and other fauna between the sites.
On February 18, mid-day had reported (Aarey car shed at Royal Palms?) that the Metro III car shed might be shifted from Aarey to the neighbouring residential complex, Royal Palms, with the developer receiving TDR in lieu.
In 2016, mid-day had reported (Mumbai Metro changes its spots, wants to now go after Royal Palms plot) in which it was stated that the private land at Royal Palms that the state government was eyeing for the car shed, is a hitherto unknown wildlife corridor between Film City and Aarey Milk Colony that sees daily leopard activity.
'Wildlife will be disturbed'
A tribal resident from Khambyacha pada close to Royal Palms said, "Already we have been saying that we don't need any infrastructure development projects in Aarey. If the car shed is shifted to Royal Palms, then the alignment of the metro will pass through the forest between Picnic Point and Royal Palms via tribal hamlets including Gavdevi pada, Khambyacha pada and Matai pada. This will not just disturb the tribals, but the wild animals which use the forest between the padas frequently."
Wildlife photographer Nayan Khanolkar, who has been working on a small cat project with Dr Shomita Mukherjee, a small cat expert, had captured a rare Rusty Spotted Cat in his camera traps in Aarey. Sources from the forest department told mid-day that the location of the cat video was just few hundred metres from Royal Palms.
Kaushal Dubey, who is part of the team doing camera trapping exercise to monitor leopard activity in Aarey said, "I feel the car shed should be shifted out of Aarey Milk Colony. Taking it to Royal Palms will only create more problems as it will disturb the wildlife corridor."
Green activist Zoru Bhathena said, "I understand this is a stretch of land with minimal trees and vegetation. Some parts of this plot were earlier occupied by slums, so it is not part of forested area. Yet, it is on border of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and deserves to be protected and reforested too."
Stalin D from NGO Vanashakti, who is also part of the Aarey Conservation Group said, "The committee needs to clarify why alternatives like Kalina, BKC and Kanjurmarg were discarded. We need to evaluate the environment and tree loss along with loss of habitat for wildlife. A proper comparison will reveal the least damaging option and that must be chosen. Aarey is a forest."
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