Mumbai, the city of dreams in India , while blessed with wealth is very poor in one aspect, Open spaces. The only relief this densely packed city has are, Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and Aarey Forest. These lush green oases in a sea of grey, not only tackle pollution and floods but also help bring down temperatures.
But unfortunately Mumbai stands to lose this forest due to various upcoming projects.
The first of these, which will open up this green lung to commercialization, is a car shed for the upcoming Mumbai Metro 3, which is being funded by the Japanese company, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with 57% of the project cost , which is about 2,036 Million $. A car shed is nothing but a parking lot and service area for metro trains.
Dear reader, in this day and age when the world is struggling with the devastating consequences of climate change, destroying a critical green lung for a parking lot is irresponsible.
3500 trees are set to be cut and we want the government to rethink the location of the car shed.
There are many viable options, mentioned in their own studies, which have no environmental destruction involved.
Experts from NEERI and IIT (Reputed organizations in India) have suggested 7 other alternate sites as options.
They have clearly warned of the consequences Mumbai will face in terms of flooding and loss of open space & wildlife, if the depot is built in Aarey forest.
Government records show that Aarey is an integral part of Sanjay gandhi National Park and thus protected under forest laws. It has over 5 Lakh trees, it is home to 9 resident leopards and has a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. Even today, original adivasis (indigenous inhabitants of this area) live in 27 tribal hamlets in Aarey. It offers a unique experience for urban dwellers to experience nature at it's best. “In the name of development, only tribals suffer” said one of the leaders. The Save Aarey campaign has been requesting the government to relocate the carshed to an alternative location. Relocation will not affect the metro 3 alignment in any way. Common citizens from all walks of life, professionals, students, school children, celebrities have supported this issue.
Inspite of all this the state government is insistent on building the depot in Aarey.
And to support this, they have given wrong information to JICA. The Mumbai Metro rail corporation Ltd.(MMRCL) has told JICA that the project site is located in city area and no wildlife is envisaged, while in reality, Aarey is a forest area , housing 76 species of birds, 80 species of butterflies , 16 species of mammals, 38 species of reptiles and 9 leopards, besides 0.4 million trees.
By signing this petition, you are asking JICA to review the funding given to the project. According to JICA's environmental and social considerations, it should comment on the issue and By shifting the depot out of Aarey, Mumbai will not only get a metro but also retain its green, open space. And we are sure in consideration of its policies, JICA will also help in putting an end to further loss of land in Aarey to various other big and small projects.