Mumbai: Save Aarey gets counter narrative in #AareyAikaNa

Updated: Sep 08, 2019, 07:25 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav, Chetna Yerunkar

Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation chief posts series of tweets arguing how the Metro will help the environment and why Kanjurmarg isn't ideal

Mumbai: Save Aarey gets counter narrative in #AareyAikaNa
Ashwini Bhide

The Tree Authority has given an approval to cut 24,472 trees within Mumbai over the last four years. Why is there such a hue and cry now?" That's what Ashwini Bhide seems to be asking. Bhide, the chief of the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC)—the agency under flak for its requests for cutting down trees in Mumbai's green lung Aarey Milk Colony for building of a car depot—has now taken to Twitter to counter the social media protests against the attack on Aarey.

Tweeting with the #AareyAikaNa (Hey please listen), under the handle, Bhide has argued that the Supreme Court has ruled against building of the depot at Kanjurmarg (the alternative suggested by activists). In a series of tweets, Bhide tried to explain the environment benefits of Mumbai Metro Line 3. On Friday she tweeted, "Environmental benefits of @MumbaiMetro3 as assessed by @OfficialDMRC and validated by #UNFCC auditors. 2.61 lakh metric ton of CO2 will be reduced every year as the comprehensive public transport connectivity improves and modal shift happens. #AareyAikaNa @CMOMaharashtra."

Also Read: Battle for Aarey: 24,000 objections won't count!

She also hinted that some people are unnecessarily raising the issue of trees that will be cut at Aarey, while the same people did not have anything to say about the high numbers that were hacked over the last several years having received Tree Authority approval. "#MCGM #TreeAuthority have given approval to cut 24472 trees from 2013 to 2017. 10074 trees among them to be cut and 14398 trees to be transplanted. What is their status? Has anyone heard any noise against it? Why now? Why so much? #AareyAikaNa @CMOMaharashtra," she said.

Activists who have been fighting to save Aarey have also been claiming that the alternative land at Kanjurmarg, suggested by a CM-appointed technical committee in 2015, is free of litigation. Bhide tweeted, "Land at #Kanjurmarg is claimed by private land owners who hv obtained a stay in 1996 in WP 5792 of 96 preventing GOM to make any use of it & is still not vacated despite continuous efforts. So #Kanjurmarg land was never & is still nt available. #AareyAikaNa @CMOMaharashtra."

Also Read: Mumbai: Row over Aarey Colony puts focus back on Kanjurmarg

In the last few years there has been a demand by environmentalists to protect Aarey Milk Colony as the forest has a rich biodiversity. On this, Bhide tweeted, "Plea 2 declare Aarey land as Forest in WPL/2766/2017 before Hon Bombay HC was dismissed on 26 Oct 18 & SLP 33819/2019 for relocation of Car shed to alterate locations including Kanjurmarg was dismissed by Hon.Supreme Court on 15 April 19. What else? #AareyAikaNa @CMOMaharashtra."

Environmentalist Zoru Bhathena said, "It's such a shame to see a high-ranking government official like Ashwini Bhide making a false statement. The 41 ha of land required for the Metro Depot at Kanjurmarg is government-owned land, without dispute. The disputed portion is only in a corner, which is unconnected to the depot. The Collector of Mumbai Suburbs has said so on a sworn affidavit to the Hon'ble Bombay HC in December 2015. BMC's Kanjurmarg dumping ground is built on this plot, without paying a single rupee to any private party. When the BMC can use one side of government land, why can't Metro use the other?"

Want to join the fight?

Join the protest today from 11 am to 3 pm at Picnic Point in Aarey Colony, Goregaon East

Also Read: Reply about Tree Authority decision in 5 days, HC tells BMC

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