Aarey Colony areas adjacent to Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park to be reserve forest: Maharashtra government

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Updated on Sep 12, 2020 05:29 PM IST
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By, Mumbai

Following a survey of Aarey Milk Colony on Friday by various state bodies and state environment and tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray, more than 600 acres at the green lung adjacent to Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) may be declared a reserve forest. The final declaration is expected by September 20.

On September 3, Thackeray had announced 600 acres (one-fifth of Aarey’s 3,122 acres) near SGNP would be declared reserve forest area under section 4 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

On Friday, a state panel led by Thackeray, principal secretaries of forest and environment departments, Aarey administration, SGNP officials, and Dindoshi legislator Sunil Prabhu undertook a three-hour survey of areas in Aarey to be brought under protection. Thackeray said, “Friday’s survey was to see the place with our own eyes rather than just declaring it on paper. We wanted to see how much more area can be protected.” A state official said an additional 50-75 acres may be added to the proposed 600 acres.

Milind Mhaiksar, principal secretary (forest), said they found areas devoid of construction within the proposed 600 acres. “We are going for the protection of this area in our first phase. Leopard movement is pretty much everywhere in and around Aarey, but our immediate focus is to provide protection for areas contiguous to SGNP where big cats have been spotted,” he said.

Areas that will fall outside the protected zone include Film City, Royal Palms, and similar pockets where infrastructure projects have been proposed.

Conservator of forest, SGNP, G Malikarjuna, who was present during Friday’s survey, said, “It was decided on Friday and we will see to it that major hillocks and green zones where leopard movement has been captured by us through camera traps, contiguous to SGNP will be included in this proposal,” he said. “As per the provisions of the Indian Forest Act, 1927, once this area is declared as reserve forest, there will be bar on accruing of any new rights, and any violations (tree felling, habitat destruction etc.) will be booked as an offence under various sections of the Act.”


    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

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