Green activists dub Aarey measures as ‘tokenism’.
Mumbai: Countering the claims made by environment activists over the use of Aarey land for construction of the Metro car depot, the Maharashtra government has promised to undertake adequate measures to ensure there is no threat to the environment. The measures include groundwater recharge arrangements, plantation of trees, audit by experts and no commercial use of the land. However, activists are not happy with the norms and termed it as mere “tokenism.”
A notification, issued by the Urban Development Department, said that the open area shown in the plan will remain open and it shall be binding on authorities implementing the project to conserve trees. Aiming to mitigate the environment impact on the Aarey Colony, the notification said, “Groundwater recharging arrangements will be provided in the depot. Plantation of trees would be done as per the recommendation of the committee. Trees above 10 feet height of native variety be planted and plantation will be taken over by professional agencies only, annual audit of plantation by third party will be done and reports will be posted on the company’s website. The MMRC (Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited) will maintain the trees for five years.”
It further said that total 33 hectare of land shall be used only for metro car depot and allied activities. “Commercial users shall not be permitted,” it added. Before development of the land for the purpose of car shed, MMRC shall obtain necessary permissions from the department concerned as required under all other prevailing laws. The character of overall construction shall be such that the underground water table shall not get disturbed, it said.
However, environment activist D. Stalin termed the promised measures as “tokenism” by the government.
“It is a meaningless activity. Preserving environment does not mean recharging groundwater and planting trees alone. It is a forestland and water conservation is a natural process,” Mr Stalin, who has been at the forefront in opposing the car depot at Aarey, said.