Metro officials claim Aarey is not a forest, just grassland
Local Press Co 5-point Snippet
1. Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) recently wrote to the Environment ministry claiming the Aarey colony is nothing more than a grassland and should be exempted from the ‘No development zone’.
2. MMRC officials wrote to the ministry in a desperate bid to get clearance for the construction of the car depot for Metro III in Aarey. Earlier, MMRC’s proposal of building a shed in Aarey by displacing over 1000 trees had met with a strong opposition from both citizens and activists.
3. Aarey is a safe haven for a hundreds of local species and houses between 3-5 lakh trees. Despite the Mumbai’s urbanization and industrialization, Aarey is one of the reasons why the air in the city is still breathable. As a result, is has been declared as a No Development Zone (NDZ) and Eco Sensitive Area (ESA) by the Environment and Forest ministry.
4. But, MMRC wrote to the ministry and asked them to exempt its construction from the No Development Zone, citing the betterment of the city’s infrastructure. It has also argued that Aarey is not a declared forest but a grassland owned by Government of Maharashtra.
5. Earlier, MMRC also received flak from activists, most prominently the ‘Save Aarey’ group, after it increased its demand from 30 hectares to 62 hectares for building the car depot. However, for now, the ministry hasn’t taken any call on whether to allow the MMRC to construct the depot inside Aarey and declare the entire 62 hectares as No Development Zone.