Tuesday, August 3, 2021
HomeEditorialWe need to save Aarey, but we also need to save Mumbaikar...

We need to save Aarey, but we also need to save Mumbaikar who die because of infrastructure

The protest continues over felling of over 2,500 trees in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony for the proposed car shed for Mumbai Metro 3, a big political row has erupted. Protests intensified leading to the arrests of 29 people and 38 being booked. Several leaders were also detained while protesting. Meanwhile, allies Shiv Sena and BJP have been at loggerheads over the issue. The opposition in Maharashtra blamed the ruling alliance for the “slaughter” of trees. Congress slammed Shiv Sena of adopting double standards by condemning BMC tree authority’s decision to cut trees but continuing to support the BJP-led government. Political drama is heating up over the axing of trees and more reactions are pouring in, but one must know the reality and act like matured citizen of Mumbai.

Some politicians have mentioned that they are not “opposed” to the idea of Mumbai metro but only to the construction of the metro shed 3 at the “Aarey Forest” which are the “lungs” of Mumbai etc. The Protestors argue that the present government is killing the lungs of the city and destroying forests and that the move is anti-environment. So let me break it to you, this same government has planted 33 crore trees in the last 5 years. There are 3691 trees in Metro 3 depot land out of which 461 trees are to be transplanted and 2185 trees are to be cut and 13110 trees will be planted. It is important to note that these 3691 trees occupy approximately 17% of the total land that the Metro 3 project will be built upon (30 Ha.).

Mumbai Metro is an ambitious infrastructure project that attempts to connect every nook and corner of the city. A city clogged with traffic and people this comes as a mode of quick, safe and cheap transit. The state government aided by the Central government has undertaken this ambitious project as if they are in a war. The war is for providing a better lifestyle to the hardworking Mumbaikars. Facts mention that at least 10 commuters die daily on the railway tracks having fallen off the local trains. Mumbai locals are working on thrice their actual capacity and are massively clogged as of now. This city deserves a better infrastructure. Mumbai Metro may solve this problem. Moreover, an average Mumbaikar travels for hours being on the road, huge traffic, and terrific crowd needs some alternative. For development, some states have demolished temples and some cut the trees. Very important to note that the Sanjay Gandhi National Park is spread over 11,687 hectares and Aarey Colony in 1287 hectares. Out of the 1287 hectares, the metro car shed will be only built on 30 Hectares of Aarey land and even within that 5 Hectares has been kept intact for greenery. So in a nutshell, only 2% area of the entire Aarey Colony will be utilised for the proposed metro car shed. Not just that this metro line 3 shall reduce 6.65 lakh vehicular trips per day and an overall reduction in fuel consumption by 3.54 lakh litres per day! The current status of the project is pretty impressive too. While 61% of tunneling being already completed the station work has achieved 40% of completion status. The government has already incurred 11,198 cr of expenditure on this project while awarding 10 contracts to specialised systems agencies.

The current agitation being led by Bollywood actors, activists, NGO’s and few citizens are primarily with the shed being constructed under the Metro 3 project. Lot of protesters are not aware of the actual facts and are being mislead by the NGO bunch with half trusts and half lies. There are some people who are opposing it simply because they hate BJP and some protestors are political parties, ahead of 2019 assembly elections they want to encash this issue to their advantage. Mumbai will potentially be safer to travel and environmentally richer with a Metro and 2700 trees less, than it will be with 2700 trees but no Metro. Every single day that the project is postponed, 8 people die falling from the Mumbai local (18,000 deaths in 5 years!). Every single day that the project is postponed, vehicles on the roads remain the same (or increase) and stressful traffic leads to further CO2 emissions. Consequently, the Metro line will help reduce the burden on both the local train and vehicular traffic, making our mass public transport relatively safer. The Metro will help reduce CO2 emissions by 2.62 lakh tonnes per annum. That’s not my opinion, or the government’s. It’s an assessment by the UNFCC. To give you a reference point, 3000 trees would help reduce CO2 emissions by 82 tonnes a year. A promise has also been made to plant thrice as many trees cut, and while none other than NASA has acknowledged India’s efforts towards “Greening” of the planet one should be suspect of such promises earlier this year.

No one likes trees being cut. Not me, not the activists, not the MMCL, not Devendra Fadnavis, we are all on the same page! Our conscience is hurt with the idea that trees might have to be cut, and rightly so. But our conscience must also hurt for people that die daily falling over from local trains. Our conscience must hurt knowing that a BEST bus that is supposed to carry 51 people is carrying 120 and a local train that is supposed to carry 1,174 passengers is carrying 6,000. It’s not “bad luck” when there’s a stampede or a bridge collapse and people die, in fact it’s a miracle that it doesn’t happen more often. We need to save Aarey, but we also need to save the people who die because this city’s infrastructure is crumbling around them. And it would be disastrous if we left their fate to chance, only because we failed to see the bigger picture.


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Dr Vaidehi Tamanhttp://www.vaidehisachin.com
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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