‘Aarey set to lose 40% of green cover since 1949’Updated: Nov 15, 2019 00:21 IST
Aarey Mik Colony in Goregaon (East) is set to lose 40% of its green cover since 1949, a study conducted by a city-based institute revealed.
The study, conducted by Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture and Environmental Studies (KRVIA), Juhu, was made public on Thursday.
It highlights that only 800 of 1,300 hectares (ha) of Aarey, which was originally allocated as ‘No Development Zone’ will remain as a ‘Green Zone’, leading to a loss of around 40% of the original area due to ongoing and proposed construction activities.
It further stated that the newly-proposed public and private projects are likely to sever its contiguity with Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), affecting the wildlife movement, disrupting the hydrological systems and the natural drainage.
The institute has made use of satellite maps, photographs and old reports to highlight the impacts of the past and proposed land use changes on catchment areas and ecosystems to conduct the study.
Shweta Wagh, author, urban conservationist and associate professor, KRVIA, said, “This reduction of the area has gradually happened over time. Our study aims to show how the original area of Aarey has been reduced systematically since it was established.”
A partly hilly landscape with 4.2 lakh trees, Aarey forms a buffer zone of SGNP, which is home to a large plant and animal biodiversity. The area also has slum encroachments and tribal settlements and feeds the Oshiwara and Mithi rivers.
In 1949, the state had handed more than 1,300 ha to the dairy department, which led to the establishment of Aarey Milk Colony. The next few decades witnessed a host of projects in the area. “There will be two kinds of impacts,” said Hussain Indorewala, co-author of the study. The first will be the disruption of existing drainage networks, concretisation and construction in catchment area leading to a reduction in ground water percolation.
Opening up land parcels in Aarey will lead to displacement of tribal communities and loss of traditional livelihoods, the report adds. “By showing the hydrology of rivers, geomorphology and overall terrain using maps, the report is proof of a possible ecological disaster in the making,” said Anand Pendharkar, wildlife biologist who was consulted for this report.