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Mumbai Metro car shed at Aarey: Myth vs Reality

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Rakesh K
An IT Infrastructure Consultant, passionate about Indic History.
 

It comes as a surprise that many against the Mumbai Metro Car Shed do not know the difference between a Forest and a Grazeland or a Pastureland. In fact, many are not aware of the background of the issue at all.

They were just told that environment is being harmed, and they started opposing it. So first, let us look at the details of the entire issue.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park (Forest)

This National park of Mumbai has its root in ancient Bharath dating back 500 – 250 BCE. It was well connected with many trade cities within India (Kalyan, Nasik, Ujjain, etc.) & outside India (Greece, Middle East) via the ports in Kalyan.

Kanheri Caves, in the National park was once an educational centre of the World, which once was directly under Maurayan ruler Chandragupt, and later for a brief period, under Kushan’s, whose empire extended till borders of Turkey.

As per Bombay National Park Act of 1942, Krishnagiri National Park was established, later renamed as Sanjay Gandhi National Park in 1996. Today this forest is 105 square km protected area and popularly known as the lung of Mumbai.

 

Aarey Dairy Colony (Graze Land)

Centuries later, Mumbai become the key port during the Maratha empire. It was later developed by the British to export the loots out of India. In Independent India, Mumbai became the financial capital, with people from other states moving in the City of Dreams.

As the population of Mumbai grew, feeding the population became a prime goal. In 1949, Dara Nusserwanji Khurody, Milk Commissioner of Bombay, established Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon East comprising of 12 villages, outside the National Park. It became operational by 1954.

 

Today, there are about 32 cattle farms, a large Film City, a Park, and Royal Palm Estate (hotel and buildings) in that area.

There are court cases filed by various NGOs to prove that Aarey Dairy Colony is a Forest, but till the courts rule, Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a forest and Aarey is a Grazeland or Pastureland – NOT forest.

Mumbai Aarey National Park Map
Mumbai Aarey National Park Map

Commuting in Mumbai

The Mumbai Local train network is spread over 400 Kms, considered as lifeline of Mumbai carrying over 4200-4500 passengers in the single train of 12 racks during the peak hours. It is considered most overcrowded in the world, due to which thousands have died by falling off the running trains. Stress is the highest and evident from a recent incident where a 25-year-old Asif Sheikh chewed off a co-passenger’s finger for a scuffle over standing space in the train.

Mumbai has India’s most congested road. There are approximately 10 lakh private cars, which is said to be only 28% of the total vehicles in Mumbai. During peak hours, a mere 20 mins drives could take about 2 hours. Today, the vehicle contribution to emission of particulate matter (PM) 2.5, a key air pollutant is 16% (9,450 tons) and by 2030, it is expected to rise by 23% (15,600 tons) in 2030.

NGOs

When the Metro-III project was announced, 13,000 objections were received of which 10,000 were traced to a single entity in Bengaluru. Is there any religious motive, a political or both? Well, it is not known yet, but you must make your own conclusion.

Any NGO must register under the FCRA act for accepting funds from overseas. Here is a screenshot of the payment page of one such NGO.

This NGO opposing the Metro Car Shed & is not registered in FCRA and is under scanner for dodgy dealing. Twitter user @SureshNakhua had received a notice for publicly exposing this. A person named Stalin, associated with this NGO, recently threatened a woman over a Facebook post on Aarey Forest.

Another NGO, Watchdog Foundation, had started a petition to save Aarey, claiming it was a forest.

When Amitabh Bachchan supported the much-needed Metro suggesting ways to improve greenery, Watchdog Foundation protested outside his bungalow. In 2016, the same NGO had filed a FIR against a Pub for hurting religious sentiment, but never even bothered to check about many abusing Ganpati festival.

Why are these NGOs being selective? What kind of NGO threatens citizens for having their views?

FACTS ABOUT AAREY METRO

Fact 1: To help reduce carbon footprint, Maharashtra government promised planting of 50 crore trees, of which 33 crore trees are already planted, which resulted in increase of Water bodies by 1100 sq km. There are approx. 4.8 Lac trees in Aarey & only 2700 will be razed; however, 15,000 tree will be planted elsewhere in Mumbai to compensate this loss.

As per Forest Survey of India, Maharashtra has a highest forest tree cover followed by Gujarat and Rajasthan:

Maharashtra has been doing well in having green cover

Fact 2: Over last few decades, several encroachments had taken place in the area and several trees were felled. In 1997, Bombay High Court had identified the boundary, but till today there is no boundary built and it is estimated that 61,000 slum dwellers and few builders have encroached the forest land easing 1000s of trees.

The encroachment has turned the Mithi River into the gutter, which is choking smooth flow of water, especially during the monsoon.

Fact 3: To construct Mumbai Film City, several trees was uprooted. This city is approximately 8 times bigger than the proposed Metro car shed. Film city and Royal Palms estate together were the cause of 1000s of trees being cut.

Fact 4: The Metro project is expected to reduce up to 7–8 lakh vehicular trips per day, hence considerably reducing the carbon footprint and the pollution of Mumbai City.

QUESTION TO ALL ENVIRONMENTALISTS & THEIR SUPPORTERS:

  1. Do you’ll have any alternative plan for the Metro Car Shed? Or How to counter traveling needs of growing population?
  2. What plans you have for the families and the children of earning parents who die after falling off the crowded trains?
  3. What are your plans to reduce the carbon footprint of the city?
  4. How many trees have you planted and taken care of until its maturity?
  5. Meat eating is the number 1 cause for Global Warming. Will you stop eating meat?

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Rakesh K
An IT Infrastructure Consultant, passionate about Indic History.

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