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  • Sumesh Lekhi

Bringing down a Forest

Looks like the government has not got the PM's message: PM's Message on the Bear Grylls Show: "I had an Uncle. We were very poor. So, we had to do something to earn money. So, my uncle thought that the wood used to light the stove, WE SHOULD SELL THAT WOOD. So, he found a place, set up shop, and then informed our Grandmother. But our Grandmother said NO. WE WILL STARVE, WE WILL DO HARD LABOUR, BUT WE WILL NOT SELL WOOD, BECAUSE WOOD HAS LIFE IN IT AND WE CANNOT CUT WOOD... So, you see, the environment is intrinsic to our lives."

Aarey is an environmental issue, but most people are bringing in their political preferences while talking about it. Ruthless cutting down of full grown trees and opening up the destruction of a section of a forest which is in the centre of the Mumbai is unfortunately made out to be political by many, depending on their political leaning. What is happening at Aarey is extremely unfortunate and the government of the day and MMRCL will go down in history as the government that mercilessly cut down trees despite such a strong citizen movement from so many years to save that part of Aarey. Even the way it was done in the darkness of night, while keeping all citizens brutally at bay will be a sad night in the history of Mumbai. Then there is the question about "what about the government creating history with new Metro routes?" Metro connections are absolutely necessary and nothing can take away from that fact, but it has nothing to do with Aarey as other sites have been proposed and the actual area requirement for the Metro does not commensurate with the area being destroyed. Its amazing how a huge government with all its resources at its will cannot find a solution, whereas they find it easy to lathi charge and lock up citizens whose only fault is that they want to protect trees and the environment. And then they say that MMRCL is doing it and we have nothing to do with it- the government just cuts a sorry figure, especially after it provided all its might to let that night happen.

This is not about liking PM Modi/BJP or not liking them, but most people are coming from there. For once people should keep their differences aside and come together to save a forest- Yes, when MMRCL is taking permission to take down SCORES OF HUGE FULLY GROWN TREES, they are destroying an ecosystem- this fact cannot be changed no matter how much one twists it depending on whether you like the government or not.

And what about the judiciary? well pick up any case- the environment is not really a priority.

Aarey is an environmental issue and political preference of either side does not have to be dragged into it. There is nothing wrong in supporting the government, but it is absolutely important to call out the government when it is doing something essentially disastrous to the fabric of the city and its people- that would be true service and allegiance to the government, if that is what the intention is. Then the immediate retort is what about the METRO shed and what it will do for the city. Well It can anyways come up at alternate sites and the government could have done it long back, if the intention was not to open up Aarey.

Out of approx 3500 trees, cutting down down 2000 trees, gives the fully story! There is no connection of National Interest in this. Some of the best forest lands in India come under the Defence areas and they take pride in every single tree they plant and nurture like a baby. Well that is National Interest, not cutting down more than 2000 trees in the dark of the night.

Whether that part of Aarey stays or not, the PMs message is very clear and all citizens ought to respect it.



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