Maharashtra forest dept buys 812 acres of Aarey Colony

Maharashtra forest dept buys 812 acres of Aarey Milk Colony

The SGNP and its green stretch along the periphery is considered the green lung of Mumbai

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

In a decision that would go a long way in protecting Mumbai’s 'green lung', the Maharashtra Forest Department (MFD) has got possession of 812 acres of land of the Aarey Milk Colony.

This piece of land is located off the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, which is spread over 103 sq kms and sandwiched between the Eastern and Western suburbs of Mumbai – and has the distinction of being the only such forest in the world to be located within a metropolitan city.

The SGNP and its green stretch along the periphery is considered the green lung of Mumbai.

The land parcels in Borivali, Aarey, Goregaon and Marol-Maroshi were handed over to the MFD and SGNP in presence of Borivli Tahsildar and Town Survey Officer.

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray tweeted: “812 acres of notified land of Aarey Milk Colony, Aarey land at Borivali, Goregaon, Marol Maroshi village have been officially handed over to the MFD and SGNP. This decision paves a path for a massive forest to blossom in the heart of Mumbai.”

In September last year, Thackeray had announced that the government would designate a 600-acre parcel of land in the Aarey Milk Colony as a reserve forest. Later, the government decided to expand the reserve forest in Aarey from 600 acres to 812 acres.

Under Indian Forest Act, 1927, the land will become unavailable for development activities.

“Now it is officially under the protection of the Indian Forest Act under section 4,” added state environment and tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray.

The SGNP has the largest leopard density of the world - with 47 leopards roaming the jungles in the middle of urban expanses.

The SGNP and its larger periphery - spread in three districts of Mumbai Suburban, Palghar and Thane - is frequented by people of Mumbai.

Besides leopards,  the SGNP and its neighborhood which include the Aarey Milk Colony and FilmCity is home to more than 275 species of birds, 35 species of mammals, 80 species of reptiles and amphibians, 170 species of butterflies, several species of fish and a staggering 1,300 species of plants.