Tribals, activists protest Metro car shed at Aarey

Tree Authority members welcomed with fruits, vegetables

Members of tribal communities of Aarey Colony, along with environmentalists and activists, gathered at Picnic Point on Tuesday to protest the proposed car shed for Mumbai Metro Line 3.

Several women presented fruits and vegetables grown locally to Yashwant Jadhav, chairman of the Tree Authority, who along with other members, had visited the car shed site on Tuesday.

Mr. Jadhav said, “We’re not against the Metro. The Shiv Sena [which has a majority in the Tree Authority] has never been against any development project. However, we are against the car shed to come up here, for which thousands of trees are planned to be cut.”

The Tree Authority had received over 82,000 complaints against the proposal to cut over 2,000 trees for the car shed. He said, “We want to know, what was the nature of the objections, what was the response of the government to those objections, and if the answers had satisfied the people.”

Mr. Jadhav said if the proposal is sent again, the Shiv Sena will oppose it. He said, “There is an alternate site in Kanjurmarg, but I don’t know why the State government and the Metro administration is being so adamant about this location.” Mr. Jadhav said they also wanted the government to furnish details about the number of trees transplanted and those still surviving.

Activist Zoru Bhathena said the committee heard all their objections. “Of the 450 trees they had planted on an adjacent plot, only 250 have survived. The construction activity has destroyed a portion of wetlands, which is crucial for natural streams to flow,” he said. Asha Kisan Bhoye, a farmer who has lived in Aarey Colony for decades, said her land had been taken for the car shed project. “The authorities and the government have neglected us for too long. Why is our region targeted constantly? We will have no home, no income and no forest, which shelters us from storms and provides us with numerous sustainable resources,” she said.

Adivasi residents who had gathered to protest also mentioned other projects being planned in Aarey Colony, like the zoo. Santosh Mali, member of the Adivasi Hakka Samvardhan Samiti Mumbai, said six hamlets will be directly affected by the proposed zoo. He said, “Earlier, we were told 120 acres will be used but now the State is planning to acquire 240 acres. We wanted the Tree Authority members to visit our homes and observe our way of living before making any decisions.”

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