Against car shed in Aarey, not Metro, say protesters
Protesters formed a human chain for more than an hour and raised slogans against the authorities. A few people also gathered in support of the Metro, arguing that delays would escalate cost of the project which would in turn increase the burden on tax payers.Updated: Sep 14, 2019 03:31 IST
Citizen groups on Friday staged a silent protest against the cutting of trees in Aarey Milk Colony for the construction of a car shed for the Metro-3 line (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz).
The protesters were demanding the Metro-3 depot be shifted as its construction will affect 2,700 trees in Aarey Milk Colony. Friday’s silent protest outside Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation’s (MMRC) office started at 4pm and saw around 150-160 people. Protesters formed a human chain for more than an hour and raised slogans against the authorities. A few people also gathered in support of the Metro, arguing that delays would escalate cost of the project which would in turn increase the burden on tax payers.
Sachin Singh, 52, a resident of Mahim and a cinematographer, said it was important to protest even if construction of the depot couldn’t be stopped. “Maybe there are a few people right now but it is important to raise our voice,” he said, adding, “We want them to hear our voices.” Rahul Sud, 47, a Juhu-based film maker, said, “It needs to be clear that we are not against the Metro, but only against the car shed.”
Actress Swara Bhaskar, who joined the protesters, said, “The air we breathe is due to Aarey. So at least for that selfish purpose we must protest. We are definitely not against the Metro, but destroying Aarey for it is not acceptable.”
The status of Aarey Milk Colony, known as the city’s green lung, has been mired in controversy. In 2015, the non-governmental organisation Vanashakti had filed a petition with the National Green Tribunal, asking the area be declared a forest. However, in September 2018, the tribunal excused itself, citing lack of jurisdiction. Last month, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s tree authority controversially approved cutting more than 2,000 trees for the Metro, with only eight of the 18 members voting for the proposal. Two of the eight later submitted their resignation.
MMRC has maintained that Aarey Milk Colony is not a forest and more trees would be planted than the number that will have to be cut for the depot.