In a big determination, the Maharashtra authorities on Wednesday declared round one-fifth of the three,166-acre Aarey Milk Colony as a “reserve forest”. Nevertheless, proposed infrastructure initiatives, together with the Mumbai Metro automobile depot, in Aarey — one of many final remaining inexperienced areas in Mumbai — should not within the 600 acres and due to this fact, will proceed to be executed. A number of activists and citizen teams had staged protests opposing building of the automobile shed.
The state used sections below the Indian Forest Act, 1927, which provides powers to the state, to inform 600 acres close to the Sanjay Gandhi Nationwide Park (SGNP) as a reserve forest. The choice was taken after a gathering chaired by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. The state city improvement division will invite options and objections from folks, giving them 45 days, following which it shall problem a notification within the official gazette.
State atmosphere minister Aaditya Thackeray confirmed to HT that the Metro automobile shed is not going to be part of this plan. He stated that the 600 acres would solely embody open land in Aarey. He stated: “[The] last survey will likely be undertaken quickly. This [the plan] wouldn’t maintain adivasi [tribal] lands and slums. [The] rehab plan is separate.”
“After listening to options and objections, the realm to be excluded from the forest will likely be determined. However, the rights of the tribal group and others involved will likely be protected whereas declaring it as forest,” stated Thackeray in a press release from the Chief Minister’s Workplace. The assertion added, “Roads, slums, tribal hamlets and different authorities buildings will likely be exempted.” The state forest division additionally plans the rehabilitation of tribals inside the 600 acres in part one of many plan.
A senior bureaucrat stated, “The state will rehabilitate adivasis who’ve settled within the space now being made a reserve forest. The division will survey the overall variety of tribals and search for an appropriate location for his or her rehabilitation.” The senior official added that there’s additionally a plan to develop tourism on Aarey land, however that may be taken up after tribals are relocated. “A survey will likely be performed of the remaining Aarey land for actions comparable to night time safari or nature tourism,” he stated requesting anonymity.
Aaditya Thackeray additional stated that chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and concrete improvement minister Eknath Shinde had a separate assembly on the automobile shed. HT had reported that chief minister Thackeray had just lately chaired a gathering with all state officers to have a look at attainable choices for the Metro-3 automobile shed. One of many choices being thought of, officers stated, was a plot in Pahadi Goregaon. With no acceptable determination on the automobile shed but, the 33.5-km Metro-3 hall is going through huge delays.
Following the assembly, Aaditya Thackeray tweeted, “Forest& Setting Depts has determined to use Part 4 of IFA to roughly 600 acres in Aarey land close to SGNP. This means that it is going to be declared a reserve forest after a listening to for suggestion/ objections. Approx 600 acres of open land being declared as forest whereas all rights of Adivasi communities will stand protected. Rehabilitation of slums inside the space could be expedited. This wld be part 1 for which the Forest Dept will transfer a proposal. Section 2 survey for extra open/ forest land in Aarey, submit Section 1 will start quickly. This is able to assist the State shield the flora & fauna existent in SGNP and Aarey, (sic).”
In the meantime, forest minister Sanjay Rathod stated there have been plans to guard remaining areas of Aarey aside from the 600 acres too. “An in depth proposal had been submitted earlier than chief minister Uddhav Thackeray final month, exhibiting 600 acres to be declared as protected forests. Some further areas have additionally been recognized contiguous to SGNP and residential to a big biodiversity that wants safety. The realm recognized falls exterior the proposed improvement of the state. As soon as accepted, an in depth mapping of the proposed zone will likely be executed earlier than proposing the draft notification,” he stated.
Environmentalists welcomed the state’s determination. “This can be a step in the best course and we wish to see this protecting cowl prolonged throughout all of Aarey. The worth of Mumbai’s pure heritage has been recognised. It comes as a breather for wildlife after a six-year-battle for this recognition,” stated Stalin D, director, Vanashakti.
The Shiv Sena had backed environmentalists and locals who opposed the development of a Metro automobile depot in Aarey Milk Colony and had rejected a proposal for the axing of over 2,000 timber for the automobile shed building within the tree authority of the Sena-controlled Brihanmumbai Municipal Company (BMC).
The get together in its manifesto forward of the state elections in 2019 had promised to declare Aarey as ‘forest’ once they come to energy. After coming to energy, chief minister Thackeray had stayed work on Metro automobile depot building and later appointed a panel to check if any different location is possible for the automobile depot for the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz metro 3 hall.
(with inputs from Badri Chatterjee)