Protest against Metro Car Shed in Aarey gains steam again
Protests erupted in Mumbai on Sunday against the new Maharashtra government's decision to shift the metro car shed project back to Aarey Colony. Protesters raised slogans and were holding placards that said, "Save Aarey forest." The 1,800-acre forest area is commonly referred to as the "green lung" of Mumbai given that it is one of the few surviving green spaces in the city.
Why does this story matter?
Aarey Forest is a dense urban forest located inside the eco-sensitive zone. In 2019, the BJP-led Maharashtra government announced to set up a metro car shed project there but faced massive opposition and protests. Later, Uddhav Thackeray reversed the plan when he took over as the Chief Minister. Now, the newly appointed CM Eknath Shinde again triggered controversy by vetoing the Thackeray government's order.
Security beefed up in Aarey after the protests
On Sunday, environmental organizations called for a peaceful demonstration in Aarey forest against the recent move by the new government to relocate the metro car shed project there. Hundreds of Mumbai residents gathered at the picnic spot in the area and held protests. Meanwhile, security was beefed up in the area to preserve peace and order in the forest and prevent protests from escalating
Video of protests shared on Twitter
What had happened in High court on the issue?
The government's decision to authorize tree cutting in Aarey for the project was contested in the Bombay High Court by environmentalists and some residents. The Court, however, denied the plea, allowing the executing agency to cut over 2,000 trees in the vicinity. Later, the matter reached the Supreme Court. It barred officials from destroying any additional trees and ordered the status quo in Aarey.
What do we know about the 'Save Aarey' campaign?
The government's decision to destroy trees triggered significant protests in 2019 from campaigners, Bollywood celebs, and Aarey residents. Later, they formed a banner 'Save Aarey' campaign against the project. Then Fadnavis' administration also invoked Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to clamp down on demonstrators. Several protesters were also detained. They were released on bail when the Supreme Court intervened.
How did Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA took the matter?
In 2019, Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackery led protests against Fadnavis' government decision. He has also promised to move the vehicle shed once in power. A day after taking over the state, his father, then CM Uddhav Thackeray, canceled the idea to erect the shed at Aarey. A reserve forest has also been established on around 800 acres of property near Aarey.
First crucial decision and controversy by CM Shinde
Hours after taking charge as Maharashtra CM, Shinde has reversed the Thackeray government's stand on the controversial Metro car shed project in Mumbai. Shinde, as per reports, had directed Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to submit in court that the Metro car shed will be built at Aarey Colony as planned in 2019 under the then Devendra Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra.