Mumbai

NGOs, youth protest decision

Save green lungs: A protest against the decision to cut trees at Aarey, at Churchgate station on Friday.

Save green lungs: A protest against the decision to cut trees at Aarey, at Churchgate station on Friday.  

A series of public demonstrations were held across the city on Friday to protest the proposal to cut more than 2,000 trees in Aarey forest.

On Thursday, the Tree Authority (TA) had approved the proposal to cut 2,185 trees and transplant 461 trees from the Aarey forest for the construction of the Metro car shed.

Across the city, individuals and organisations such as Fridays for Future (FFF) and Aarey Consolation Group protested the decision. Around 150 FFF volunteers were seen protesting at Churchgate, Bandra, Andheri, Borivali, Thane, Vashi and Shivaji Park.

Rameez Sidhik, a member of the FFF in Germany, said, “The international team asked me to visit Mumbai and join the strike for saving the forest. Indians are experiencing lots of environmental problems, but the Indian government is not taking measures as compared to those in Europe. It is shocking that the Indian government is denying the existence of climate change.” Every Friday, approximately 10,000 people discuss climate change at FFF in his country, he said. Of these, around 60% are school students, who miss school to join the discussions.

Lalita Deonalli, another FFF member, said they were always ready to welcome development, but not at the expense of nature. “Aarey can be called the lungs of Mumbai as it has the most amount of ground water storage. If such a large number of trees will be cut, there will be no groundwater storage and all the rainwater will flow into the sea. If the water level in the sea rises, Mumbai will be the worst hit as it is an island. If we need to fight for everything, how can I believe that the government is really ‘for the people’? We cannot let go of such a huge and beautiful forest amidst the city.”

Vanshika Parwani, a student of Jai Hind College who joined the protest, said, “The youth is more concerned about climate change than the government. Mumbai is a concrete jungle, but the real jungle should not be destroyed for the cause of transportation.”

FFF is an international organisation that demands action against climate change around the world. It has been active in Mumbai for the past 26 Fridays. Ms. Deonalli said its volunteers will continue with protests every Friday till the government gives them a satisfactory response.

According to the TA, there were 82,000 e-mails opposing the decisions to cut the trees. Moreover, websites like change.org and jhatkaa.org have received more than two lakh petitions against the decision.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 1:20:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/ngos-youth-protest-decision/article29304260.ece

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