Several trees still standing at Metro car shed site in Aarey, say green activists
Green activists have been alleging that MMRC's claims that majority trees at the car depot site having already been cut is wrong.
After the Joint Director Wildlife, Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change (MOEF&CC) told the state to take urgent action to protect and arrest the destruction of leopard habitat in the Aarey Forest, an NGO, Empower Foundation, has written to the chief wildlife warden, Maharashtra Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam and Superintendent and BMC's Standing Committee chairman Yashwant Jadhav demanding an urgent site visit of the proposed Metro car shed in Aarey where trees were felled.
City-based green activists have been alleging that the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation's (MMRC) claims that majority of the trees at the car depot site having already been cut is wrong. NGO Empower Foundation wrote the letter with reference to an earlier letter it had sent to the MOEF&CC. mid-day, on October 9, had reported about the MOEF&CC directing the chief wildlife warden of the state to save the leopard habitat in Aarey.
Citing the fact that the cutting of trees directly lead to the habitat of wildlife species being destroyed, some of which are a part of Schedule I and are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List, Sheetal Mehta, Secretary, Empower Foundation, wrote, "We propose a joint site visit including government officials not limited to the Department of Forests (whose primary responsibility is to protect wildlife and its habitat), reputed ecologists, Tree Authority members and a wildlife conservation organisation like ours so that we can save and conserve wildlife in a region which might have been impacted by the cutting of trees. It's not just about trees, but about 290 wildlife species and their habitat and five of which are on IUCN's Red List, including nine leopards who are inhabitants of the Aarey Forest."
It may be noted that the MMRC has already issued a press statement saying that it has done away with a majority of trees at the car depot site. On Wednesday, environmentalist and Aarey Conservation Group member, Stalin D from the NGO Vanashakti, posted a video on Facebook claiming that the MMRC's claims are misleading and that there are hundreds of trees still standing. City-based nature lovers and green activists have been demanding access for citizens to the car shed site. Talking to mid-day, Shiv Sena Leader Yashwant Jadhav, said, "We will look into the matter related to Aarey post-October 21. At present, I cannot say much."
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No more trees to be axed in Aarey until October 21, says Supreme Court