Mumbai, Oct 10 (IANS) In one of the fastest tree-cutting sprees, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd succeeded in chopping down a staggering 2,141 of the permitted 2,185 trees within less than 40 hours — or roughly at the rate of one full-grown tree per minute!
Fuming activists said that these were not just trees but many of indigenous variety harbouring an entire ecosystem in the lush greenery, flora, fauna, insects, reptiles, etc.
“The government did not even wait for the Supreme Court but went ahead and in just 40 hours butchered 2,141 trees, though this officially claimed figure needs to be verified,” an irate Amrita Bhattacharjee, Member of the Aarey Conservation Group (ACG), told IANS.
The ACG has been at the forefront to save one of the last remaining green lungs of Mumbai since the past few years.
She alleged that in September, the MMRCL released media advertisements making misleading claims on the entire issue to misguide the people.
On its part, the MMRCL admitted that, following the decision of Bombay High Court on October 4 upholding the permission of (BMC’s) Tree Authority, it had felled 2,141 of the allowed 2,185 trees between October 4-5 — barely 44 short of its target.
“We respect the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court passed today (Sunday). No further tree felling activity at the car shed site in Aarey Milk Colony. Other works including clearing of logs of already felled trees, will continue on the site,” the MMRCL said.
Another activist, Shashi Sonawane, who was among the 29 arrested by Mumbai Police for opposing the tree-cutting, said that the MMRCL’s speed in clearing the green belt clearly indicated it was “not certain of getting any reliefs from the Supreme Court”.
“Why other options were not considered for the Mumbai Metro car-shed location It would have helped save the precious trees which also form the catchment area of the Mithi River and the three lakes inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park,” Sonawane, Bhumiputra Bachao Andolan, told IANS.
Slamming activists and opponents, the MMRCL Managing Director Ashwini Bhide on Monday justified the move saying: “Sometime to create something new destruction becomes inevitable but it also paves the way for new life and new creation”.