After several incidents of fires destroying trees were reported inside the Aarey Colony, Goregaon, in the last month, security measures have been stepped up to save one of the last green lungs of Mumbai.
On Wednesday, 25 trained and experienced security personnel were deployed across different parts of the dairy colony, to check felling of trees, encroachment and other illegal activities on its premises.
The guards have been recruited by the Aarey Dairy Development Department along with the state government, from the security guards board for Brihanmumbai & Thane district, an umbrella body of guards working across the state, Aarey Colony administrative officers said.
The personnel have been deployed at 20 spots, such as the Goregaon naka, Filter Pada and at the main gates of the colony.
“Our main focus is to stop destruction of trees, prevent unauthorised people from entering the premises and stop activities such as setting fire to trees to clear patches of land for illegal construction. The local police will work in tandem with the guards,” said Gajanan Raut, chief executive officer, Aarey Colony.
The colony is spread over 3,160 acres, of which the area available for cultivation of fodder and grass is about 400 acres. “We have leased out land to various organisations and institutions under the state and central government. Close to 1,899 acres is under our authority,” said Raut.
Raut said the guards have been deployed to check the rampant encroachment inside the colony. “We are also erecting a boundary wall along the colony’s boundary to stop the encroachments,” he said.
The guards will soon be joined by more personnel. “Another batch of 25 guards will be recruited for other parts of the colony very soon. They will patrol the length and breadth of Aarey regularly,” Raut said.
While some environmentalists have welcomed the development, others said there should be a mechanism to monitor the guards.
“The measure is long overdue but we welcome it. This will help conserve Aarey’s biodiversity,” said environmentalist Stalin D.
“There have to be enough checks on the guards to see they do not over-step their mandate,” said Rishi Agarwal from the Save Aarey group.