Fuel station planned near WEH: Mumbai`s Aarey forest will shrink some more

The Aarey Milk Colony is set to lose another 1,500 sq metres of land as a CNG fuel station is coming up close to Western Express Highway. A city-based environmentalist, Stalin D, has alleged that dumping of mud and land levelling is being carried out at the site. He has appealed to authorities to protect the trees on the land in the Aarey colony. Stalin has written a letter to the collector, Mumbai Suburban, the superintendent of gardens (BMC), the municipal commissioner, the Aarey Milk Colony CEO and the principal secretary of the environment department.

This is to highlight the ongoing dumping of mud and levelling that is going on at CTS number 589A inside Aarey colony. The land, which is along the Western Express Highway, is being levelled and trees are on the verge of being eliminated from the site,” the letter states.

The Aarey colony is one of the few green spaces left in Mumbai. File Pic/Satej Shinde

The letter also points out that the entire Aarey colony falls under the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. “The Hon`ble Supreme Court of India has banned tree felling inside Aarey. Under such circumstances, we fail to understand how this activity is taking place without any permissions from the Hon`ble Supreme Court and without any clearance from the ESZ monitoring committee. Even the committee cannot give permissions for tree felling, please note,” the letter states.

Stalin has requested that the ongoing work be stopped immediately and further, that authorities desist from allotting land parcels for any purpose on lands within the ESZ to third parties. “Inevitably trees will be felled. Let not the Metro car shed tree felling experience be replicated in other parts of Aarey. You are direct/indirect custodians of the forested lands and please act to protect the trees and forests. We are attaching a video sent by a concerned citizen of the ongoing work to help you understand better,” the letter concluded.

Meanwhile, a forest department official told mid-day, “The ESZ monitoring committee has given permission for the CNG fuel station but those setting up the fuel station should see to it that no trees are cut and no dumping is done on the plot.” According to a Vanrai resident who also did not wish to be named, there has been dumping on the plot demarcated for the fuel station over the last few days. “If they were carrying out the work as per rules and procedure then why did they have to deploy private bouncers on the road outside the plot?” Another local resident living in a building adjacent to The Hub Mall told mid-day that he had also seen dumpers lining up outside the plot and dumping debris on it.

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