No road widening proposed in Aarey, clarifies BMC
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday clarified that the tender it floated earlier this month for proposed road work at Aarey will not include any road widening, and only road upgradation of the carriageway from a tar road to a concrete one will be carried out.
While environmentalists have expressed relief, they remained sceptical of the BMC’s clarification as the tender calls for construction of a nine-metre wide road, as opposed to the existing seven-metre wide carriageway. They also highlighted that BMC intends to lay concrete pipes on either side of the road, which seems unnecessary in an area with sufficient natural drainage.
Zoru Bhatena, environmentalist with the Save Aarey movement, who had filed a detailed complaint in the matter with authorities, said, “Grateful that BMC has clarified that no trees will be touched in Aarey. But, it doesn’t answer the question as to why they want to add concrete drains in a natural area, or why they want to create facilities to increase traffic in the forest. Nor does it answer why they are doing such work without statutory forest and eco-sensitive zone clearances as is mandatory in notified forest areas.”
BMC for its part has now said that there will be “no proposal of widening of existing asphalt road” and that “due care will be taken to protect existing trees and the adjoining Aarey forest.”
“Necessary mitigation measures will be taken care of as per the direction of chief conservator of forest,” BMC added.
Sanjiv Valsan, another Save Aarey campaigner, said, “It is a relief to know they aren’t going to widen Aarey road but converting a tar road into concrete isn’t going to solve the real and current problem of Aarey road, that of unacceptably high vehicular congestion in an eco-sensitive zone. There needs to be a heavy toll on private vehicles entering Aarey, as was the case a few years ago.”