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Save Aarey Milk Colony

Aarey Milk Colony was established in 1949 under the white revolution programme. The spot is considered as a little Kashmir with a lake and a picnic spot, the peak near Aarey guest house etc are some of the tourist attractions in the area. The colony has restaurants and gardens and an observation pavilion. Aarey Colony is considered as the lungs of Mumbai providing oxygen for us and the lush green atmosphere reducing the temperature and maintaining eco-system of the city. There have been several encroachments on this precious piece of land due to the apathy of administration as well as citizens.

Aarey Milk Colony is home to some of the oldest trees in the city is a lush green patch covering 3000 acres in the suburbs of Goregaon. Barely 15 minutes from the Mumbai International Airport, Aarey Colony lies in the heart of this alpha world city, handling a traffic of 50000+ vehicles on an average, using it every day. City’s development plan has taken a prime importance ever since new Government assumed office in the State of Maharashtra. Much of the land is already occupied by various dairy units, squatters, tribal hamlets, slum encroachments, private cattle sheds and film shooting sets, among others.

While the civic development plan suggests that the proposed development of Aarey Colony can significantly restructure the growth of suburbs over the next couple of years, eating into the green cover will be disastrous. The environment ministry had given clearance for the proposal for the construction of metro car rail shed at Aarey Colony. If the car shed is constructed inside Aarey Colony then it will adversely affect the environment and reduce the city’s green cover. Earlier Shiv Sena, MNS and environmental activists had protested against the state government’s decision to construct car shed at this location. The environmentalists had suggested Bandra Kurla Complex, Kanjurmarg and Kalina as alternative sites for the car shed. However, the government had said that if the car shed is relocated then it will have to incur additional expenditure of Rs 1,500 crore.

The government had then asked officials to come up with an alternative plan. However, the government has announced a fresh proposal to build the car shed at same location by saying that only 350 trees will be cut instead of 2000. It also added that 3,500 trees will be replanted. Citizens should not allow sacrificing the vital green lung for another cement jungle and car shed. It is time to have private-public participation in this initiative and make sure there is no encroachment and the green cover remains intact in Aarey Colony.

 

Jayanthi Subramaniam

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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