Aaditya Thackeray, Shiv Lena leader and former Maharashtra minister, today led a protest against the state government’s move to shift the proposed Metro-3 car shed to Mumbai’s Aarey Forest. After taking over as the Maharashtra Chief Minister last week, Eknath Shinde announced that the car shed for Mumbai Metro Line 3 would be moved back from Kanjurmarg to Aarey Forest.
At the protest, Aaditya Thackeray said, “This is a fight for Mumbai, fight for life. We fought for forest and to protect our tribals. When we were, here no trees were uprooted,”
“Whatever anger they (Maharashtra government) have against us should not be taken out on the city. Jungles and the environment need to be protected, climate change is upon us,” he added.
Aarey is a unique forest within our city. Uddhav Thackeray ji declared 808 acres of Aarey as Forest and the car shed must move out. Our human greed and lack of compassion cannot be allowed to destroy biodiversity in our city. pic.twitter.com/YNbS0ryd8d
— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) July 10, 2022
Holding placards, the protesters raised slogans against the new government’s proposal to shift the project back to Mumbai’s Aarey forest, a 1,800-acre area that is often termed as the megalopolis’s ‘green lung’.
— ANI (@ANI) July 10, 2022
The issue dates back to 2019 when the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation sought the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) permission to fell trees at Aarey Colony. This was opposed by environmental activists and sparked massive protests in Mumbai.
According to environmental activists, the forest not only provides fresh air to the people of the city but is also a key habitat for wildlife, including some endemic species. The forest has some five lakh trees, and also has a couple of rivers and some lakes flowing through it.
As activists stepped up their agitation, then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the area identified for the Metro car shed was not categorised as biodiversity or forest land and also reasoned that the Metro would reduce carbon footprint.
After coming to power, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government announced that the Metro car shed would be moved to Kanjurmarg. They had also declared Aarey a reserved forest.
Hereafter, the BJP-led government at the Centre went to the Bombay High Court in 2020, saying the land belonged to its Salt department. The High Court then issued a stay. Since then, the project has been in limbo.
The Shiv Sena had been opposing the plan to build the shed at Aarey even when they were the BJP’s alliance partners.