The metro project in Mumbai will certainly ease out some burden from the traffic of Mumbai. The crowded roads and even more crowded local trains in Mumbai might get a little less crowded once the metro runs into the busy corners of the city. The Maharashtra government has decided to cut down over 2600 trees for building the metro car shed.
However, the activists say that many other locations could be used for building the car shed but the government decided to use the Aarey forest because it might have future development plans in that area. Moreover, the petitioners who have filed a case against the decision of the government of Maharashtra say that it is an unclassified forest area since it is covered with thousands of trees, birds, and animal species.
Cutting down of the trees will not only make these creatures homeless but also destroy the trees that suck in the pollutants and carbon dioxide from the air and in turn give us pure oxygen to breathe. This would disturb the balance of the ecosystem and the government is not in a mood to hear their pleas and protests because they see huge profits in the undeveloped land of the Aarey colony.
Initially, when a petition was filed in the Bombay High Court, the petitioners asked the court to intervene. However, the Bombay High Court refused to accept Aarey as a forest which gave a green signal to the government officials to continue with their plan. The environmentalists were hopeful that things would get sorted but the residents of the Aarey colony sensed that the government was not willing to succumb to the public pressure. At midnight on 5th October 2019, the MMRC started cutting trees and the residents understood the intention of the government.
Thousands of protestors gathered in and around the Aarey colony in the morning and started their protest against this shrewd move. Some protestors were even picked up and jailed by the police. Should people be jailed for asking the government to stop cutting trees? The irony is that eminent personalities and ‘so-called’ celebrities from the Indian film industry did not voice their opinion as strongly when it came to cutting down trees in Aarey whereas the same celebrities did show their sympathy when the Amazon rainforest was burning.
Some politicians even blamed the MMRC for this tree-slaughter. Aaditya Thackrey, an emerging leader of the Shiv Sena claimed that the government should not be blamed for this as it was the MMRC that started the operations without consulting anyone. Are the politicians to be trusted on this is the question of the hour. However, all the citizens and environmentalists should come forward and support the petition that asks the government to stop eyeing the forests.