BMC allows cutting of 2,700 trees in Aarey for Metro-3 car shed

BMC allows cutting of 2,700 trees in Aarey for Metro-3 car shed
The Tree Authority approved MMRC’s proposal to cut 2,232 trees, which would be compensated by planting three times as many saplings elsewhere, and remove & re-transplant another 469 trees (Representational Image, Courtesy: Sahil Pednekar)

The Tree Authority of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday approved the cutting or transplanting of over 2,700 trees in Aarey Colony for the Metro-3 car shed.

Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRCL), which is constructing the Metro, proposed to cut 2,232 trees and promised to compensate by planting three times as many trees elsewhere in the city.

It also sought permission to remove and re-transplant another 469 trees.

The proposal was cleared yesterday at the authority’s meeting, chaired by municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi. The members of the Tree Authority had inspected the site before giving approval.

While Shiv Sena opposed the move, BJP member Manoj Kotak, also the group leader in the BMC, backed the proposal.

“Metro is extremely essential for the city and it is everybody’s duty to support infrastructure-related work. In fact, Metro will not only save fuel but will also protect the environment,” Kotak was quoted as saying.

Tree authority member and NCP corporator Kaptan Malik said he supported the decision in wake of infrastructure development.

Shiv Sena youth wing leader Aaditya Thackeray, however, alleged that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had been “misled” on the issue.

“The metro is a good thing, I use the existing one and will use the new one too. However, whoever planned this green chopping in Mumbai, obviously has no love for our future generations or our city. Has misled the chief minister on its environmental assessment report for Aarey,” Thackeray said.

The decision also drew sharp criticism from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), who termed it as a “betrayal” of the trust reposed by Mumbai citizens in the civic authorities.

MMRCL had been waiting on the approval for close to two years. Since the plan to build a car shed in Aarey was mooted, thousands of citizens had opposed it on environmental grounds. Over 80,000 also signed a petition to that effect.

Another hurdle came in last year when the Bombay High Court stayed the tree authority’s functioning on the grounds that it did not have enough independent experts. The stay was lifted after the civic body appointed five independent experts in June.

Earlier this week, MMRC Managing Director Ashwini Bhide reiterated that building the depot in Aarey was a technical decision, which was taken after due consideration.

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