Two demolition drives on Wednesday and Thursday cleared the Aarey Milk Colony of 250 illegal shanties that had come up in the past three months. In its place, 1,500 trees will be planted before the monsoon begins, Aarey officials said.
The shanties were cleared from a seven-acre area at unit 32, close to Ram Nagar, and a three-acre area at unit 16.
“Twenty-five security officials and I visited the spot and cleared the area. In a span of three months, the number of illegal shanties in the area had gone up from one or two to nearly 250. They have all been removed,” said Gajanan Raut, chief executive officer (CEO), Aarey Colony said.
Raut said the encroachers were given three days’ notice to leave the colony, before the plantation drive starts, said Raut.
The move was welcomed by both residents and activists. The Save Aarey conservation group said they supported the Aarey management. “The management is taking serious steps to preserve Aarey. We hope Aarey’s natural glory will soon be restored,” said environmentalist Stalin D.
A liquor shop near unit 32 was also demolished, officials said. “We have filed a complaint with the Aarey police about such illegal shops cropping up within the colony,” Raut said.
The new management at Aarey is making a positive change, the residents of the area said. “These illegal shanties kept coming up before this, and with the blessing of the department itself. The new CEO, however, has taken the initiative to remove the encroachments,” said Biju Augustein, a resident.
To prevent further encroachment and felling of trees, on May 6, 25 security personnel were deployed across 20 spots, including Goregaon Naka, Filter Pada and at the main gates of the colony.