Activists alleged 3,000 trees may be cut for the Aarey Colony metro coach project. (File)
Activists opposing the construction of a metro coach shed in Mumbai's Aarey Colony say they will continue their protest. They alleged the Maharashtra government will cut a large number of trees for the project. A contract was given last week to build a coach shed for Mumbai metro
at Aarey Colony within two-and-a-half years.
Activists, however, say at least 3,000 trees are likely to be cut for the project.
The Maharashtra government recently said it plans to plant four crore saplings across the state in a bid to prove its commitment to replenishing the environment, especially after the protest over cutting trees
for the metro project.
On Sunday last week, protesters came together to air their concern, alleging they were not the government is not serious about protecting the environment.
"The government's strategy is to open up Aarey for real estate development under some pretext or the other... They are going to show that they have planted so many saplings at some locations," environment activist Stalin Dayanand said.
"We all know that this plantation is just a photo-op and it is not going to work simply because this is a drought-hit state which doesn't have water. The rains may look after the saplings but after that there is no plan for their upkeep," Mr Dayanand said.
The government has maintained that the environmental impact of building the metro coach shed at Aarey has been studied and addressed. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said there will be no commercial exploitation of the land acquired for the metro project at Aarey Colony.
He has said his government is committed to protecting the environment and the plantations will be closely monitored. "People casually joke that the forest department and the government plant the trees at the same place every year. But this time, this is not the case," Mr Fadnavis said.
"Every place and every tree is being accounted for. The trees planted last year have been geo-tagged. We even know the latitude and longitude of each geo-tagged tree. We also know their current condition," he said.
The Aarey Colony activists said their stand is in line with what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Paris about protecting the environment for the sake of future generations.
"So our prime minister said that it's a crime to destroy nature and we need to protect our environment and nature for our future generations. This is what all citizens need to understand that without the forests we cannot protect our environment," an activist said.