Mumbai Metro vs Aarey: MMRC dumping debris around Aarey trees?

May 11, 2018, 08:06 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Locals allege that the muck removed from the car depot site during land levelling work is being dumped at the base of trees, which will negatively impact the green cover and may even kill it off completely

Debris from the levelling work for the Metro car depot is being dumped around the trees in Aarey
Debris from the levelling work for the Metro car depot is being dumped around the trees in Aarey

This tussle is never-ending: green activists have said Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) does not have permission to start any work in Aarey Milk Colony for a car depot, and yet, MMRC maintains it has all the necessary permissions.

This time, MMRC has said it is only carrying out land levelling work for the car depot without touching any trees. Pictures a local shared with mid-day, however, show otherwise — debris removed while levelling is being dumped at the base of trees with mounds of two to three feet of it allegedly surrounding the trunks, which, say green activists, might eventually end up killing the trees or have an impact on their growth.

An environment lover who had gone near the car depot site clicked pictures of the ongoing work. Speaking to mid-day, the person alleged, "Due to the tin sheets installed around the car depot boundary, it's difficult to see what's happening inside. So, I climbed on a rock outside the boundary and saw levelling was in progress. There are no trees where the work is being done, but what shocked me was that the workers were simply dumping the debris at the base of huge trees. I feel that this poses a threat to the existing tree cover."

"MMRC has been illegally carrying out work at the site, despite the NGT asking it to maintain a status quo. MMRC also doesn't have permission from the Tree Authority. It may claim it's not touching any tree, but this dumping of debris is as good as killing the trees. It should remove the debris at the earliest..." said Stalin D from NGO Vanashakti. mid-day's questionnaire sent to MMRC over the allegation went unanswered.

Fading green
Metro III has been facing criticism from various citizen groups for gobbling up open space. Citizens and activists are up in arms against the proposed car depot at Aarey Milk Colony, saying it will lead to the destruction of the city's last remaining green lung, which not only has a rich biodiversity, but is also home to several leopards.

The noise over noise
"MMRC is committed to following additional noise mitigation measures to reduce noise generated during construction activities," said Ashwini Bhide, MD, MMRC, in a meeting held at the Mantralaya on Wednesday, at which Principal Secretary (Transport & Port), Government of Maharashtra, Manoj Saunik, and Founder of Awaaz Foundation Sumaira Abdulali were present. Bhide; S K Gupta, director (projects), MMRC; and R Ramana, executive director, MMRC, provided details of the measures being adopted at various sites to mitigate the noise, such as installation of noise barriers at Cuffe Parade and Vidhan Bhavan stations, and the techniques of removing muck with a mechanical device specially designed to eliminate impulsive noise created by piling activity.

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