THESE days, the issue of Metro Car Shed at Aarey is in the limelight. Every day, one celebrity or the other comments on the issue and gives his or her opinion. Most of the opinions are skewed against the Car Shed at Aarey. While these protestors are finding new ways to stay in the limelight, one needs to look at these protests as well as protestors for what they actually are. Publicity hungry, pseudo activists who are dying to stay under media-attention. I am here to dissect the reason of this protests and expose this bunch of hypocrites.

First of all, no one can deny the impact of celebrity endorsement to the protests or any movement for that matter. They manage to capture public imagination and influence public opinion. As a nation, we are obsessed with celebrities. However, what we fail to notice that most of these activists as well as all the celebrities sit in their air conditioned office all day, travel in gas – guzzling SUV’s and will never travel by Metro themselves. These activists are people who simply cannot understand or relate to the pain an ordinary Mumbaikar goes through during his daily travels using the existing modes of public transportation. Therefore, their protests against the Metro and the Metro Car Shed reeks of hypocrisy especially when most of these protestors visited Aarey Colony to protest against the Metro Car Shed in their gas guzzling and polluting cars. So, for these activists, Metro Car Shed opposition is another way to stay in the limelight and nothing else. Mumbaikars should not be fooled by their false propaganda and agenda. Mind you, they will never have use for a Metro like a common Mumbaikar.

Further, these protestors are unable to see sense or reason, for them, it is my way or the highway. If anyone questions them or supports the Metro project, they are quick to either abuse him, troll him or label him as a ‘Bhakt’, a retard and what not. Much like liberals, they are not open to counter opinions and are quick to dismiss the opinions of others as propaganda or hurl abuses at the person countering them. The amount of abuse that Ashwini Bhide, the officer in charge of Metro Project, with a brilliant track record, has to endure on Social Media is a testimony to this. These activists have a well oiled machinery and possibly trolls to be instantly dismissive and abusive towards people who support the Car Shed at Aarey.

These activists have taken the protests a notch further, apart from celebrities; the activists often tie up with schools, to have young, innocent, clueless kids at protests. This is just another form of emotional blackmailing. Kids, out in rains, protesting against something that they even don’t understand, makes for good camera. But think about the parents, who complained that the kids were forced to be present for protests and you get the general idea about how well oiled the whole propaganda machinery of these activists are.

Aarey is home to Mumbai’s Film City. This Film City has been expanding rapidly since last three decades, and it is much larger than the proposed Metro Car Shed. It has destroyed thousands and thousands of trees. Yet none of the activist ever protested against it. In fact even now, no one seems to be protesting against the Film City which exposes the double standards that these activists use. While a lot of readers may be of opinion that Film City is an old story and what is done is done. But that is not the case. Even today, Film City has expanded at a rapid rate. Even today, the film city administrators are cutting 1000’s of trees to expand, without taking any permission from the authorities. Shiva Shetty and Sunil Desai, two local contractors operating near Film City are paid handsomely to manage the authorities and cut thousands of trees every year to expand the Film City. Two satellite pictures showing difference to the Film City over two decades explains this clearly below.

Once you compare both the pictures, you can see how systematically Film City has destroyed thousands and thousands of trees and that the so called Green Cover is non existent now. However, no celebrity or actor or activists have even bothered to oppose this blatant misuse and breach by Film City. But why would they, after all, celebrities have a strong influence on this media and these activists who love to be seen in presence of film stars. Therefore, no media house our activist will be seen speaking against the destruction of green cover by the Film City, even when it is on going and has destroyed much more trees than what is proposed for Aarey Car Shed.

Forget Film City, there is an entire hotel and residential estate by the name of Royal Palms within the Aarey Colony. This was built on a much larger area and cut far more trees than the proposed Car Shed at Aarey. But none of the activists will oppose it or ever opposed it. In fact, these activists would happily buy flats in Royal Palms and be happy with the “Greenery” and “Forest View” that the project offers. So these activists are happy to buy into that project and be happy with the Film City. It is clear that they have a problem with Car Shed at Aarey because they are against Development and Metro and not because they are worried about 2700 trees. Because if they really cared about the trees, we would have seen them opposing Film City as well as Royal Palms project.

One needs to expose these protests, this Aarey Bachao Campaign (ABC) and these activists for what they really are. It is clear that they are not protesting just because of 2700 trees to be cut. They are protesting because protesting keeps them in the limelight. Protesting and blackmailing the government by stalling the developmental projects lines up their personal pockets. None of them protested against Film City, or against Royal Palms. None of these activists will ever use a Metro. They are arm chair protestors, who are using innocent kids to indulge in emotional blackmail and are wasting crores and crores of tax payer money by delaying the much needed Infrastructure projects that Mumbai desperately needs. Some of the protestors and activists also have investments and property in Lavasa City and Aamby Valley projects where millions of trees were cut and green cover destroyed.

Just shows that these protests and the whole campaign is being run and managed by interests other than saving a few trees. The protest has political as well as financial and egoistical colour. All said and done, Aarey Colony is not even a forest. The lies being promoted by these protestors are false, baseless and border on nonsensical. The government of the day should show some political will, spine and go ahead with the proposed Aarey Car Shed and not bow down to the wishes of handful of protestors who are using their campaign as a blackmailing tool to hold a whole city to ransom.

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