Aarey of hope? Panel to visit Mumbai Metro-3 site before deciding on axing 2,000 trees
The proposal to cut 2,298 trees and transplant 400 trees at Aarey Colony in Goregaon to build a car depot for the Colaba-Seepz Metro-3 corridor will be discussed only after the site inspection on August 20, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) tree authority decided on Tuesday.
The tree authority has 18 members – 13 corporators from all parties and five independent experts appointed by the civic body.
“As the matter came up for discussion, we decided to hold a site visit. We will look at saving more trees, if possible,” Shashirekha Sureshkumar, a botanist and member of the tree authority. “As a botanist, I want to save the entire Aarey Colony. But I am also not against development. We have to balance things.”
“When it comes to environment and nature, solutions have to be dynamic. In urban development, the challenges are much greater as a few will be happy and some won’t,” said Deepak Apte, director of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and another member of the authority.
“I have not studied the issue in depth, but the government has to focus on environmental aspects. The government has been positive when it comes to suggestions. Lastly, we have to understand that any kind of pollution or environmental degradation affects all of us.”
Corporators from the Shiv Sena and Congress, along with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), have opposed the plan, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supported it. Abdul Malik, NCP corporator and member of the BMC’s tree authority, said, “A final call will be taken after a joint inspection.” Ravi Raja, Congress corporator and leader of the Opposition, said, “Our stand has been clear since the start of this fight.”
From rehabilitation of residents in Girgaon and Kalbadevi to construction of car depot and alleged vibrations from the tunneling work – Metro-3 has been mired in trouble since the announcement of the project.
The proposal to cut trees in Aarey Colony has been stuck for almost a year now, considering the Bombay high court stalled the functioning of the BMC’s tree authority. The stay came after environmental activists questioned the number of experts in the tree authority panel. The court, however, lifted the stay in June 2019, after the BMC appointed five independent experts.
The civic body also called for suggestions and objections over cutting of trees carried out in the first week of July 2019.