Mumbai's Aarey compounding into a BJP vs Others issue 

Mumbai's Aarey compounding into a BJP vs Others issue 

The Metro-3 carshed planned inside the Aarey green patch is snowballing into a major poll issue in Mumbai with the BJP pitted against others. 

The Metro project is being handled by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is executing the project. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is personally supervising the project. 

The Metro Line 3 (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) will have its carshed in Aarey Milk Colony and for this 2,700-odd trees have to be chopped, which incidentally has been cleared by the Tree Authority of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) though Shiv Sena members opposed it. Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has made it clear that his party will not allow the carshed to come in Aarey and the project will go the Nanar way, indicating how it stalled the super refinery project involving IOC, HPCL, BPCL and Saudi Aramco in Ratnagiri, ahead of the Lok Sabha election. 

Siding with environmental groups, Uddhav's son and Yuva Sena president Aditya Thackeray has sought the removal of MMRCL Managing Director Ashwani Bhide.

Meanwhile, AAP leader Preeti Sharma Menon has targetted Aditya for doublespeak on the issue and likened him to being a "new Pappu" — even though the Arvind Kejriwal-led party is against the carshed in Aarey.  Aditya's cousin Amit Thackeray and uncle and MNS president Raj Thackeray too are a part of Save Aarey movement.

Opposition parties Congress and NCP too are opposed to the carshed project in the jungle and former union environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh and Baramati MP Supriya Sule, the daughter of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, have voiced opposition to the project.

"The people at large and youth in particular are against the environmental vandalism of the government," said Dr Avkash Jadhav, Head and Associate Professor, Department of History,  St. Xavier College, while summing up the issue. 

Celebrities including melody queen Lata Mangeshkar, a Bharat Ratna awardee, too has lent her voice against the destruction of Aarey forest.

Why is Aarey important? 

* The Aarey Milk Colony has a total area of 3,160 acres of land owned by the Dairy Development Department of the Maharashtra government. Out of which area available for cultivation of quality fodder and grasses is about 400 acres. The colony houses 30 stables having a capacity for housing 500 to 550 animals in each stables. This area is a grass and scrub environment with a few hillocks, possessing two perennial and one seasonal pond as well as many seasonal streams. The vast pastures of the Marutian Para grass are maintained and harvested as fodder for cattle.

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