The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Maharashtra unit has taken up cudgels for the trees to be cut down at Aarey Colony to construct the metro depot.
The Aarey Colony is one of the city’s few green lungs, and activists and residents’ associations have been up in arms ever since the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) announced it would cut down 2,298 trees to build a car shed for the metro three project.
Mona Ambegaonkar, actor and AAP member coordinating the movement, said a meeting on the issue was held on Thursday.
“We are reaching out to the residents of each unit within the colony. Their support is crucial for our cause. We will start a signature campaign at railway stations against the proposal to chop trees, and will submit them to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in the coming week,” said Ambegaonkar.
The meeting was also attended by ecologists Anand Pendharkar and Javed Khan. “There is scientific and documentary evidence to show the presence of abundant wildlife and biodiversity on the proposed car shed site, and all over Aarey in general,” said Pendharkar
The MMRC’s project spans over 75 acres. While in January, trenches were dug up to check for underground utility lines, the actual construction is yet to begin.
“There is no construction activity going on at the Aarey colony. Until we get further instructions from MMRC, we will not commence work,” said Pravin Gadhavi, supervisor, RK Madhani and Co., who will be carrying out the project at Aarey.
Activists have welcomed the AAP’s support.
“Aarey is the last remaining large green space in Mumbai. The AAP has agreed with our demands to preserve it as a buffer zone to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and as a breathing space and recreation area for Mumbaiites,” said Rishi Agarwal of the Save Aarey Group.
The MMRC said trees would be chopped only after a nod from the Tree Authority, and would be transplanted not far from the original location.
“We have already approached the Maharashtra Nature park and various other authorities for the steady transplantation of the trees, being planned not too far from their original location,” said Ashwini Bhide, managing director (MD), MMRC.
“One must understand this project is going to lead to 35% less congestion on Mumbai roads and reduce the number of vehicle trips by 4,56,771. This means fuel consumption will go down by 2,43,390 litres daily,” Bhide added.