Entire Aarey a ‘green zone’ as state extends cover to last 326 acres, ET RealEstate

January 2, 2024
2 mins read
entire aarey a green zone as state extends cover to last 326 acres


MUMBAI: The state government has added 132 hectares (326 acres) to the area already declared a ‘green zone’ in Aarey Milk Colony.

The move makes virtually the entire Aarey a green zone and lays to rest any doubts about the protected status of the 445-hectare (1,100-acre) colony, one of the few remaining lungs of the city.

Activists welcomed the notification, which was issued by the urban development department last week and came three years after the MVA government led by Uddhav Thackeray demarcated 705 acres of Aarey land as reserved forest.

The 132 hectares made a green zone now was part of the 165 hectares excluded from the eco-sensitive zone around Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) a few years ago.

The remaining 33 hectares from the 165 hectares form the Metro 3 car shed.

‘Green zone’ tag brings high level of protection to Aarey: Activists

The state government has made virtually all of Aarey Milk Colony a “green zone”, which activists say accords one of the last remaining green lungs of the city the highest level of protection for any area here. The notification to the effect came last week with the addition of 132 hectares to the green zone. In 2016, the union ministry for environment, forests and climate change had accepted the state government request to exclude 165 hectares of Aarey Milk Colony from the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around the SGNP. This 165 hectares of land included 33 hectares for the Metro 3 car shed and a three-acre casting yard.

Of the Metro car shed area, five acres is to be maintained as a green area despite the cars shed not falling in the green zone. While the car shed land was designated as reserved for the Metro project and excluded from the green zone, no decision was taken on the remaining 132 hectares of the 165 hectares excluded from the ESZ. In the Development Plan, the 132 hectares was shown as an excluded part on which no decision had been taken. Before the MVA government, the BJP-Sena government led by Devendra Fadnavis, too, had not clarified why the 132 hectares was excluded from the ESZ.

In the midst of it all, the Bombay high court had issued an order staying any slum redevelopment in Aarey Milk Colony. The latest notification by the Mahayuti government led by chief minister Eknath Shinde accepted the BMC proposal to reserve entire Aarey Milk Colony as a green zone except for a small area near Prajapur pada where the government had already sanctioned a petrol pump in 2020. In its definition of a green zone, the Development Control Promotions and Regulations 2034 states: “Reservation proposed in green zone, if any, shall be allowed to be developed at par with other zones subject to approval of the competent authority and subject to compliance of conditions as mentioned in the notifications issued by the ministry of environment and forest, if any, as amended from time to time.”

Activist Zoru Bhathena said the declaration of the 132 hectares as a green zone was a positive development for Aarey as it meant the green lung would get a high degree of protection. “This green zone is only available for Aarey and is the highest level of protection available in any part of Mumbai,” he said. Activist Amrita Bhattacharjee said the accordance of the green zone tag to the remaining 132 hectares of Aarey Milk Colony by the state government was good news as it had so far been excluded from the ESZ and there was always the fear that it would be commercially exploited. “All the 27 tribal hamlets must now be marked in the Development Plan as otherwise there is no proof of the existence of these hamlets in Aarey colony,” she said.

  • Published On Jan 2, 2024 at 07:00 PM IST

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