From the Viewsroom

The hacking of Mumbai

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on October 10, 2019 Published on October 10, 2019

Aarey’s green cover, a microcosm of life, is well worth fighting for

A couple of years before the tree-cutting got to the massive green cover at Aarey, located at the outer fringe of Mumbai, many residents had already witnessed a similar massacre close to their homes and workplaces. It was distressing to say the least, as the grating sound of the saw permeated the neighbourhood and mammoth trees were felled, some of them older than many of us gathered there. The disenchantment on witnessing this had many regular folks — office-goers, local vendors and so on — ask some simple questions. Not against development, but the manner in which projects like the Metro 3 were being executed. The subterfuge was there to see for anyone who paid attention. Trees were chopped even as court proceedings on the issue were underway. The other opaque discussion involved the transplantation of trees, as a solution. Trees have their own ecosystems, and the older the tree, the more complex it gets. Besides, of the many trees already transplanted across the country for various projects, how many survive and thrive? The score-card, reportedly, is quite dismal.

Dig deeper and more uncomfortable truths tumble out on alternative routes and sites that could have been developed. The niggling question remains: Could Mumbai’s transportation woes have been addressed differently, with less damage to its green-cover and gasping citizenry?

Two years ago, citizen protests were quelled and tree-huggers carted off to the nearest cop-stations as the trees were felled, nests and all. This story only gets amplified at Aarey. You don’t need a government notification to designate it a forest to respect this massive area, thick with trees and shrubs and undergrowth and populated with wild-life (including leopards), birds, bugs, everything important to life as we know it.

It’s no wonder that citizens from not just Mumbai but other cities too are acting in support of Aarey. A city’s green-lungs are a badge of honour well worth fighting for.

The writer is a Deputy Editor with BusinessLine

Published on October 10, 2019
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