MOST of you must be aware of a new campaign by the name of Aarey Bachao through mainstream as well as Social Media. There are lots of protests and demonstrations happening in the name of saving the Jungle. On the surface, it would seem that these protestors are well-wishers of Mumbai city who are working hard to save the green cover and forest cover of Mumbai. However once you start scratching the surface, some shocking details start to emerge. For one, this protests and demonstrations seem to be completely false and misleading and the people involved with Aarey Bachao have nefarious interests and are actually working together to harm the interests of Mumbai rather than save it.
We all know that the burgeoning population of Mumbai has put a tremendous strain on its resources and our public transportation system is creaking and crumbling under the weight of over increasing population. Every year around 2000 persons die due to over crowded local trains and 4000 persons die due to road accidents. These disturbing statistics make it obvious that Mumbai is urgently in need for more and improved means of public transport and that the administrators should work on improving the public transportation system in the city on war-footing. This is why a network of Metro Rail has been planned to criss-cross the city and provide people with a means of clean, green and environmental friendly transportation system, which will complement the existing transportation infrastructure in Mumbai.
As with the other Governmental undertaking, the rate of progress of Metro Construction is trudging along at Snail’s pace in Mumbai. Despite innumerable odds, one metro line Versova – Andheri – Ghatkopar was completed and was an instant success. Four more lines are being constructed at the moment. However, ever since the work on the metro lines have started a few so called activists having dubious interests have been constantly trying to hijack the projects through protests and demonstrations for ridiculous and frivolous reasons. Some have protested that Metro construction should not happen at day time as it affects other means of transportation while some have filed court cases saying that Metro construction should not happen at night as it leads to disturbance to the residents. This is both ridiculous and sad, as due to such mindless protests, the metro construction was hampered and slowed down for over a year.
Barely had the above issues resolved, these so called pseudo activists now have come up with one more equally ridiculous issue to protest against – basically the issue this time being that the Metro Carshed should not be constructed at Aarey Colony. It is estimated that due to construction of Metro Carshed and other ancillary activities around 2700 trees would have to be cut. These activities are giving an emotional colour to this and are protesting against cutting down of these trees, thereby succeeding in once against slowing down the construction of Metro. These activists are protesting without providing any viable and financially feasible alternate site for construction of Metro Carshed in place of Aarey Colony. These activists have only one interest – to stop the construction of Metro in the city and slow down the progress and development of the city. If they are pressed and asked where else should the carshed be built, if not at Aarey then they come up with a lame answer that Carshed should be built at vacant plot in Kanjurmarg.
It would be pertinent to inform the readers that the plot at Kanjurmarg which these pseudo activists are referring to, is a privately held plot and does not belong to the Government. It is also under litigation and court case has been going on for the ownership of this property and the court has issued a stay order banning any kind of modification or developmental work on this property. Even if the Government tries to take over this property, it would take a minimum of 3-4 years to acquire it and clear it of all the legal hurdles. Other than that, the property at today’s rate would cost Government over 5000 Crores and it would need additional 1700 Crores to prep the same site to make it suitable for carshed. Apart from this, Government has already spent 11000 Crores at Aarey to facilitate the carshed which will go to waste.
The protestors and activists behind Aarey Bachao Campaign are thus pressurising the Government to waste over 17000 Crores of Public Tax Payer money just to save 2700 trees, when it is clear from all technical analysis and studies that the Environmental Benefits of metro will far outweigh the cutting down of 2700 trees. These Activists know very well, that if the Government simply agrees to plant 2700 trees elsewhere and looks after it for 15 years, even then it would not cost over 100 crore rupees. However the activists are still continuing with their logic defying protests and demonstrations because such a noble act by the Government will not satisfy their over sized egos.
It is very clear that these activists have an ulterior agenda and motive and that their interests is not to save Aarey Colony or 2700 trees, but to derail the improvement of public transportation system in the city and not letting the existing Government with the planned developmental project. I sincerely hope that this Government does not bow down to a handful of such activists who in the name of protests are resorting to emotional blackmail and are holding Mumbai’s development to ransom. The Government should ignore such folks and go ahead with the Metro and Carshed at Aarey Colony as planned.
Keep a look for my next article to know more about the nefarious designs of this activists.