Maharashtra Prime Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced on Tuesday (September 1) that the state government will designate a 600-acre plot of land in the heart of Mumbai city as reserved forest.
Where is this land located?
- The 3,162-acre Aarey Milk Colony was established in 1949 as a milk processing and trading center for Mumbai and adjacent areas. Over the past 70 years, this vast green area has been regularly devoured around its edges, and the state has acquired 1,282 acres for projects like Film City.
- Once located on the outskirts of town, it is now part of the sprawling western suburb known as Goregaon. Only more than 1,800 acres of green space, home to 290 wild species of flora and fauna, remain in the last green bastion of the rapid spur of Mumbai.
Is the area threatened by invasion?
- The land belongs to the eco-sensitive area of Sanjay Gandhi National Park and is home to around 10,000 people who live in 27 tribal villages.
- As Mumbai urbanizes rapidly and accepts high-cost infrastructure projects like the metro, a section of urban and transport planners had expressed the need to use some of this vast open space.
- Aarey has been at the center of a storm since October last year, after Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) decided to build a hangar for the Rs 32,000 crore Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro underground corridor, and cleared the site of more than 2,000 trees, causing public outcry.
- As the Maharashtra Assembly elections approached, the Shiv Sena led by Yuva Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray had raised the environmental issue and protested against the proposed hangar.
- After taking the oath of office as chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray suspended work on the car shed.
So has Uddhav isolated the forest area of Aarey from future invasion threats?
- On Tuesday, the chief minister announced that he plans to designate Aarey's forest lands as reserve forest.
- However, of the more than 1,800 acres of open space available, only 600 acres will be allocated as forest.
- The reserved plot of land does not include the land on which the controversial car shed for the 33.5 km long Colaba-Bandra-Seepz corridor was to emerge.
What is the process of allocating land as forests?
- Under section 4 of the Indian Forest Act of 1927, the state government may “establish land in a reserved forest” by publishing a notice in the Official Gazette “stating that it has been decided that such land it is a reserved forest ”, and“ specifying, as far as possible, the situation and the limits of the said land ”.
- According to the law, the government must also appoint a Forest Regulation Officer (FOE) “to investigate and determine the existence, nature and extent of any right which is deemed to exist in favor of any person on or on any land in said limits. or in or on any forest product, and deal with it “.
- The OFS will seek suggestions and objections from residents and others within 45 days of the start of the process. After taking into account the suggestions and objections, the process of transforming land into reserved forest will be completed. Therefore, the area will be protected from any construction.