Mumbai: The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and National Green Tribunal’s Pune bench have declared the vast green expanse of Aarey Milk Colony in north Mumbai as an eco-sensitive zone, a decision which Yuva Sena President Aditya Thackeray has welcomed.
Thackeray’s praise, however, has raised eyebrows as the area has been a Shiv Sena stronghold and residents of hamlets inside the Aarey Milk Colony had opposed the move.
Anil Valvi of Shiv Sena represents the area in the municipal corporation. The Assembly segment of Jogeshwari East which covers it too is represented by Sena leader and Minister of State for Housing Ravindra Waikar.
In a tweet, Thackeray said, “Very happy and relieved that Aarey has been declared as eco-sensitive zone by MoEF and NGT.
We are very fortunate to have an eco-sensitive, rich biodiversity forest in our lovely city, we must prevent those who want to exploit it”.
A spurt in construction activities inside the Aarey Milk Colony has led to protests by environmentalist groups.
Raj Thackeray-led MNS had opposed the proposal for building Metro III carshed in Aarey Milk Colony. The decision puts a question mark on the fate of the carshed project.
The state government had in November informed the MoEF and NGT that it proposed to declare the land around Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), which borders on Aarey Milk Colony, as an eco-sensitive zone. The MoEF had then marked the eco-sensitive zone area of 4 km from the SGNP boundary. The area in question now covers about 6,110.629 hectares.
Environmental activists and groups had been arguing that the area houses or is frequented by leopards and other wild animals.