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Aarey Forest -2185 trees to be cut for Mumbai metro

Aarey Forest -2185 trees to be cut for Mumbai metro

Tag: GS 3|| Environment || Biodiversity || Protected Area Network

Why in News?

  • Maharashtra government is firm in ceding the Aarey forest land for metro projects.
  • This has aggravated distress among civil society as the forest area falls under the eco-sensitive zone.

Latest Developments

  • The Bombay High Court recently dismissed a petition challenging the decision of the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s Tree Authority to allow felling of 2,185 trees, and transplantation of 460, on a 33-hectare land at Aarey for the construction of a Metro rake depot.
  • Aftermath widespread protests and section 144 imposed was imposed in Aarey area.
  • Nearly 1,500 trees were chopped on Day 1.

Significance of Aarey forest

  • It is considered to be Mumbai’s green lung which spreads over 1,300 hectares in the city’s northern suburb.
  • It is home to several species of birds, insects and leopards, and was once part of the adjoining Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
  • This forest was once used to be over 3,000 acres in north Mumbai has been reduced to around 1,300 acres.

 Threats to the Aarey Forest

  • The Aarey Milk Colony (also Aarey Colony) is a neighbourhood situated in Goregaon (East), a suburb of the city of Mumbai.
  • The Aarey forest was developed as a milk colony for dairy development.
  • In 1949, 3,160 acres were pencilled off for the Aarey Milk Colony, which comprised a milk factory, pastures for cattle grazing and residential units for labourers.
  • It was established revolutionize the processing and marketing of dairy products in the city.
  • In 1977, Film City was built on a part of Aarey forest. A zoo has also come upon another part of the Aarey forest. Now, there could be metro car shed
  • 16,000 cattle are also reared on the land
  • The colony also has gardens, a nursery, lakes, an observation pavilion, picnic facilities, and milk plants.
  • Aarey is famous among nature enthusiasts for being the green lungs of the city.

Allocation of land in Aarey

  • Total land given to the Central Government of India Institutions (Central Poultry Farm, Modern Bakery, NDDB, RBI)—229.92
  • Total land given to the Maharashtra State Government Institutions (Mumbai Veterinary College, SRP, MHADA, MCGB, Film City, Fishery)—729.12
  • Area under road and buildings—460.00
  • Area uncultivated and wasteland under nallah, lake, farm bunds, farm roads, river channels—1,020.20
  • Area under lawns and gardens, para grass, and orchards—537.00
  • Land and the social forestry land, etc.—183.00
  • Total—3,160 acre
  • Land allotted to MMRCL –81 Acre


  • MMRCL, the project proponent has already planted 20,900 trees with GPS tagging on each plant in Sanjay Gandhi National Park and the survival rate is 95%.

State Governments argument

  • State government defended the project that they have a rehabilitation plan in place. The Metro will mitigate the carbon footprint. All environment assessments done.
  • The underground metro project would mitigate carbon footprint to an extent that otherwise, we would require as many as 2 crore trees to be planted in Mumbai, which is impossible.

 What will be the consequences of the government’s move?

  • The developments in this area have consequences of the felling of over 2,185 trees.
  • The metro car shed construction is expected to be declared as a high-security area which will rob enthusiasts of one of their favourite cycling or trekking venues.
  • There are also concerns related to tribals who stay in Aarey and their rehabilitation

The example of the Delhi Metro

  • People then protested against felling of trees for Delhi metro stations and metro line.
  • But DMRC has planted 5 trees for every single tree that it has taken down.
  • Operational Network- 377 km, Number of Stations -274
  • Forest cover area has increased in Delhi.
  • 30 lakh people are using the metro as public transport.

The politics of a jungle

  • Congress-NCP members on Tree Authority of BMC helped BJP to allow tree cutting.
  • In August 2019, the resolution was passed 8-6.
    • Shiv Sena –Opposed and voted against
    • Cong –boycotted the vote
    • NCP –Supported BJP
  • If both the opposition parties had opposed the resolution, it would have been rejected by 9-8.

Response to the pleas and protests

  • The Supreme Court recorded an assurance given by the State of Maharashtra that no more trees will be felled in the Aarey forest for a Metro car shed till the next date of court hearing on October 21.
  • The central government backs for Aarey tree felling and calls for development with environmental protection.
  • In order to compensate the loss, MMRC has planted 23, 846 trees and distributed 25,000 saplings as a part of its green initiatives.

 Mains model questions

  • Deforestation rises with incomes in developing economies. Discuss