Learnings From The Aarey Episode!

“Trees are among the most prominent and critical organisms on Earth, yet we are only recently beginning to comprehend their global extent and distribution. We’ve nearly halved the number of trees on the planet, and we’ve seen the impacts on climate and human health as a result. Multitude of efforts are required to restore healthy forests worldwide,” says Thomas Crowther, the chief scientific advisor to the UN’s Trillion Tree Campaign

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Realising the need of trees and efforts to restore them, the Supreme Court hit out at the Maharashtra state government saying that no more trees should be cut in last surviving green patch in the bustling metropolitan. The Aarey Forest, revered as Mumbai’s ‘green lung’, is a vast green stretch of land located in the Mumbai’s northern suburb, Goregoan. The tale of its encroachment began in 2014 when State Government made it a Development Zone. If you think, the debate and dispute is new, scroll the archives and you would know the details.

Let us hop on the time machine….click the back button….and land our aircraft in November 2014, the month where it all began. The time when we were looking for sustainable environment, the Mumbai State Government was planning to build a car shed for Metro III on 30-hectares of the forest land. Since then, all eyes have been on Aarey. The decision was not welcomed by environmentalists, ecologists and Mumbaikars alike. And, why would they welcome it….it was a matter of felling 2,000 trees. Reality Check! Let us now look beyond, this concern was not just about trees, it threatened the lives of tribes thriving the forest land. Encroachment….Destruction….Displacement….all were threatening the lungs of Mumbai.

Not much changed and recently the issues garnered limelight again. As a mark of respect for petitioners fighting for Aarey, The Supreme Court directed the government to stop felling of trees and rather answer the question of Supreme Court on what they have been doing for clean and green environment. “Tell us how many saplings you planted. How have they grown? What’s the status of your forests?”, asked the Supreme Court. The entertainment industry stood with the petitioners as Twitter saw many tweets by celebs including Alia Bhatt, Dia Mirza, Madhuri Dixit, Farhan Akhtar, Varun Dhawan, Karan Johar and Swara Bhasker. All stood up to save their city…..and it high time we all stand up too.

It is not about giant leaps but what matters is one little step by everyone. We all should keep our environment like we care for our dear ones. Summing up in the words of Evo Morales, “Sooner or later, we will have to recognise that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.”

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