The Chief Minister of Maharashtra announced on September 1 that the state government would designate a 600-acre land in the heart of Urban Mumbai as a forest.
The Shiv Sena had sided with the opposing members of the construction of a Metro car shed in Aarey. The party would like to retain that constituency, even as it braces for a blowback in case construction resumes.
Over the last 70 years, this sprawling green area has been steadily eaten away at its edges – and 1,282 acres were acquired by the state for projects such as Film City. Once located on the edge of the city, it is now part of the sprawling western suburb known as Goregaon. Only 1,800-plus acres of green space, which is home to 290 species wild of flora and fauna, remain in the last green bastion of rapidly concretising Mumbai.
On Tuesday, the Chief Minister announced that he planned to earmark the Aarey forest land as a reserve forest. However, of the 1,800-plus acres of open space available, only 600 acres will be earmarked as forest.
The reserved land parcel does not include the land on which the controversial car shed for the 33.5 km-long Colaba-Bandra-Seepz corridor was expected to come up.
Aarey has been at the centre of a storm since October last year, after the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) decided to construct a car shed for the Rs 32,000 crore underground Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro corridor, and cleared the site of over 2,000 trees, leading to a public outcry.