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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

BMC panel axes plan to cut 2,238 Aarey trees for Metro

In its meeting on Wednesday, the 18-member authority, which includes five experts, were not convinced by the car-shed proposal.

mumbai Updated: Aug 22, 2019 05:12 IST
Steffy Thevar
Steffy Thevar
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Civic body’s tree authority on Wednesday refused to clear a proposal to cut 2,238 trees and replant 464 trees in Aarey Milk Colony
Civic body’s tree authority on Wednesday refused to clear a proposal to cut 2,238 trees and replant 464 trees in Aarey Milk Colony(HT FILE)
         

The civic body’s tree authority on Wednesday refused to clear a proposal to cut 2,238 trees and replant 464 trees in Aarey Milk Colony to make way for the upcoming Metro-3 car depot, seeking more details from the civic administration. The panel also demanded a case be registered against Metro authorities, after it noticed construction on the 33-hectare plot, without its permission.

On August 10, three expert members of the authority had visited the proposed site and last week, they submitted their observations to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). In its report, the experts said the site in Aarey is home to trees that should be retained as “heritage trees”.

In its meeting on Wednesday, the 18-member authority, which includes five experts, were not convinced by the car-shed proposal. Corporators from Shiv Sena, BJP, Congress and NCP, who are members of the tree authority, had visited the site on Tuesday. Yashwant Jadhav, member of the tree authority, from Shiv Sena, which has been opposing the car shed, said, “The proposal was sent back because it was incomplete. We need detailed information on the answers given by the administration to the 82,000 complaints sent in by citizens and also explore the possibility of an underground car shed.”

“Also, if the alternative plot at Kanjurmarg has no cases, then the BMC should buy that plot. Until we get satisfactory answers, we will not approve the proposal.” he added.

Jadhav also said there are 27 adivasi padas (tribal hamlets), which are dependent on these trees and it is their source of income.

“When we visited the site on Tuesday, we found that the MMRCL (Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited) has already started construction on about five hectares. How can they do that? So, we have demanded that the BMC should register an FIR against the authority concerned.”

Deepak Apte, director of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), who is on the panel as an expert member, said, “The commissioner gave a detailed brief on the project to update the new members. The basic argument was that the BMC must strive to save as many trees as possible. Some of the trees along the fence put up by MMRCL are as tall as 70 feet and have to be saved. They cannot be transplanted and must be saved at all costs.”

Praveen Pardeshi, BMC commissioner, said, “There is no question of filing any FIR against the Metro authority because they have not cut a single tree for which they did not have any permission. The place where they have started construction is already reserved for Metro in the BMC development plan too. The work done is as per earlier permissions.”

While BJP member Abhijeet Samant said, “The BMC must use the Miyawaki method to create dense forests in a short span of time at Aarey and SGNP also. The civic body must carry out excessive forestation on the remaining part of Aarey. The tribals are not dependent on the trees chosen to make way for the car shed.”

First Published: Aug 22, 2019 00:24 IST