“We came here to protest the tree trimmings and cuttings along the main Aarey road, as the civic authority wants to replace the tar road with a concrete road. This tar road is already functional, and only requires minor repairs, so why replace it with cement road? Is it to facilitate the movement of big trucks into the Metro car shed area? Illegal tree cuttings were also noticed in other parts, which will destroy Aarey,” said activist Amrita Bhattacharjee of Save Aarey movement.
Activist Tabrez Sayyed who had also participated in the event said, “The government should not dilly-dally to declare Aarey as a reserved forest. There should be no more building projects here, and definitely not an expensive concrete road in place of the existing tar road. That is why we are hugging the trees along the main Aarey road today.”
Aarey local and Shiv Sena leader of the Vahtuk Sena, Intekhab Farooqui, commented, “Several local sources have informed us how trees are being slyly cut in the interiors of Aarey, and house boundaries extended. Some man-made fires have also impacted the trees in the past. The forest department must step in to protect not just this forest but also the wildlife like the leopards.”
Bhattacharjee added: “The Metro Bhavan project has also not been fully cancelled on paper by the current government, while a temporary arrangement is being made for Metro car shed. We fear that if a permanent car shed comes up inside Aarey Colony, this entire green region is doomed. Just today we saw how people are cutting big trees and throwing them in the Mithi river channel, near the Tapeshwar mandir area, where a leopard cud was rescued last year. Government has to take the first stand whether they want a Green Aarey, or just another commercialized zone which will further destroy environment and wildlife.”
Among the tree huggers at the event was an 86-year-old army veteran, A K Ghosh. The Virasat Bachao Yatra convenor Dr Snehal Donde, who had recently accompanied India’s waterman in the city, was also present at Aarey Colony today.