Mumbai Metro: Civic Bodies oppose chopping of thousands of trees for Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ Metro Car Depot

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Mumbai: Two thousand two hundred and ninety eight trees will be uprooted to establish a car depot at Aarey milk colony for the Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ Metro Rail. People have been opposing the move, but authorities are firm on going ahead with their plans for the car depot.

A car depot is used to keep trains when they are not in operation. Aarey colony was selected for building the car depot because there was open land in the green area, available at low cost.

Of the 2,298 trees to be removed in Aarey colony, 2,044 trees will be transplanted in the adjoining plot; but the other 254 trees will be removed permanently.

Environmentalists and nature enthusiasts have come together under the banner ‘Save Aarey Milk Colony’ opposing any construction activity in the green area.

In fact they have even approached Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA) with their plea. The JICA has provided a loan to the state government towards construction of the metro line. The environmentalists have demanded that JICA force the state government to spare Aarey Colony land from being used for the project.

Environmentalist Rishi Aggarwal wrote to JICA in December last year, “I feel great attention has not been paid to the environmental and social impacts from Line 3 Metro in Mumbai. Reduction of greenhouse gases because a number of car trips will be reduced cannot be used as an argument alone for the Line 3 Metro. 70 acres of ecologically sensitive area which is giving numerous environmental services like absorbing polluting gases, flood prevention and providing recreational and scenic value to citizens will be lost in this process and this is not an insignificant loss. Alternatives are available for the car shed which would have been chosen had ‘great attention’ been paid to environmental factors,” read a letter by Rishi Aggarwal to JICA.

Although JICA has accepted the letter, it is yet to react to the appeal.

In addition, leopards and other animals have been frequently spotted near the car depot. In fact there has been human-leopard conflict between 200 to 500 metres from the plot chosen for the depot.

But Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation managing director Ashwini Bhide informed, “It is impossible to relocate the car depot at this juncture of the project. We will soon make a presentation to the tree authority of the civic body, and a site visit will be organised to brief the tree authority members about our plans.”

Though 36,038 square metres have been earmarked for the transplantation of trees that will be uprooted from the 30-acre plot planned for the car depot, the MMRC has begun another study to see if the alternate site will be sufficient to accommodate these trees.

“The survival rate of trees should be high in this case, because the environment will not change drastically; these trees will be transplanted on the neighbouring plot,” said another MMRC official.

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