Hello friends Come let’s talk about the Aarey forest in Mumbai On one hand, the government says that in order to make the metro sheds, it is compulsory to cut down the forest because they have no other option On the other hand, a lot of protesters and citizen say that it isn’t necessary to cut down the forest to make the metro sheds So who is making the right claim in this case? Come let us analyse the arguments of both the sides and find out Although protests have been ongoing for a long time to save the Aarey forest ever since the proposal to cut down the trees in order to construct a metro shed was put up for the first time because the Aarey forest is one of the last remaining green Lungs of the city of Mumbai But the final decision on this was taken by the Tree Authority on 30th of August, 2019 which falls under the ambit of BMC They decided upon cutting down the trees to build a metro shed at the same place, (as per the earlier plan) Their final decision stated that out of the four lakh trees in the Aarey forest, they would cut down 2700 of them. Out of which, 2200 would be actually cut down and the remaining 400-600 trees would be transplanted As a compensation, they said that they would grow three times the number of trees someplace else Four of the members of the Tree Authority, that took this Final Decision, belonged to the BJP that agreed upon the felling of the trees One member belonged to the NCP that agreed upon the felling of the trees There were three independent experts that agreed upon the felling of the trees These independent experts were environmentalists who had indulged in a lot of environmental activism in the past The Congress members staged a walkout and refrained from voting The Shiv sena was the sole party to vote against the felling of trees It all sounds so perfect Only a few trees are being axed- 2000 out of 4 lakhs! (the shed) is being made for the metro, which in turn, is going to be so beneficial If people stop using cars and use the metro instead, that would result in so much less pollution, overall Also, they’d be transplanting so many tress, growing so many more of them- in place of the ones that were cut And since no other place is available to them, let us let them do it The independent environmentalists themselves say that it is okay to cut down the trees Since there seems to be no other way out and the trees need to be cut so be it So, what is the problem? This is where all the issues start The truth of matter was that the independent experts said that when the votes were being cast in the meeting of the Tree Authority, a lot of confusion reigned and we couldn’t figure out when they accepted our votes as” yes” So the independent experts state that their votes of “yes” to the axing of trees, were deliberately misconstrued Hear me out: this matter isn’t just about a few trees The activists maintain that the are a forest is a complete ecosystem Along with the trees, a lot of endangered animals too, exist in these areas There is also a wildlife corridor here There have been Leopard sightings here As you would already know, Leopard is an endangered animal In fact, a number of species of endangered animals are found here that make up this entire ecosystem I’d like to show you a few photos of some of the animals that are found in the Aarey forest Also, the site where the metro shed would be created is the floodplain of the Methi river I had told you about the importance of flood Plains in the Assam floods video If any kind of construction activity is undertaken on a floodplain, it would mean whenever it rains excessively, the chances of flooding increase and Mumbai is already grappling with flooding issues So if any kind of construction activity is undertaken here or if a metro shed is built, the chances of flooding become extremely high whenever it rains heavily “All of us need to come together to save the Aarey forest” “all of us need to come together” Last month a number of protests were organised regarding this issue Lawyers took(the matter) to the courts to protect the trees But the decision of the high court came in on 4th October 2019 supporting the construction of the metro shed and giving approval to the felling of trees Now you know that normally, when you lose a case in the High court, you can appeal in the Supreme Court but this decision of the High court was announced on a Friday, after which, the weekend followed and after that, it was common knowledge that the Supreme Court would be closed for Dussehra holidays So it was common knowledge that the Supreme Court would not remain open With utter cleverness, the same day the High Court decision was announced, the BMC members reached the site to fell the trees the very same night When the activists got news about this, they reached the Aarey forest to protect the trees the BMC members called in the Mumbai police and FIRs were lodged against the activists They were arrested and detained in jail Section 144 was imposed to prevent the gathering of a crowd All of this only because they were trying to save the trees! This is the treatment meted out to those who try to protect the trees in our new India On the other hand, What does our Prime Minister do? He gives out a lecture along with Bear Grylls on Man Vs Wild Look at how I save trees! Look at how I am a Champion of the Earth! When I was a child, my entire family refrained from burning wood because we used to be extremely careful in matters of protection of the environment “We’d rather die of hunger or slog for a living than selling wood” “We cannot cut down the trees” I stated- “there’s a limit to hypocrisy!” Aarey forest is just a small example As a fact, I’d like to tell you that in the past 5 years, The Modi government has given Forest clearance to 99.82% of the industrial projects That is, almost every industry that sought permission to clear a forest They granted the permissions blindly The same figure was around 80% during the time of Congress That is the Congress government too, approved 80% of the projects for forest clearance But now this number has risen to 99.82 And then they say “No, but we’re growing trees!” They quote a NASA study telling us how China and India are contributing to the growth of greenery It may seem so, reading the headlines with a cursory glance But upon reading the article in detail, you will realize that 82% of the greenery in India is due to Food crops You will also come across articles claiming the increase of the forest cover in India There, you’d notice hyperbolic claim of how data manipulation was used to claim that forest cover has been increased Earlier, the definition of “forests” used to be different. Subsequently, farms also began to be counted as forests The sugarcane crops that were grown were also included as “forests” This is how they managed to increase the forest cover A BJP spokesperson writes on Twitter that the Fadnavis government, within Maharashtra, has grown more than 24 crore trees just within the last 3 years I looked at the number and was surprised- 24 crores! This is wonderful! So many trees have been grown! Then I realized 24 crores is huge number- it would mean so many trees! So, they should be visible somewhere! They should be visible through satellites So I asked them to show me where the trees had been grown so that I could see for myself They have no answer On the contrary, I am being abused Further along, she writes that 82 sq kilometers of mangroves have been grown in the last three years 82 sq kilometers is a huge area. To give you an idea, Aarey forest is a mere 16 sq kilometers So they claim to have grown mangroves on an area five times the size of Aarey forest Where are they? Show us then! Then they talk about transplanting trees. But keeping in mind the historical data, it was found after filing of an RTI application that Out of all the trees that were transplanted by the BMC between 2010-16 50% of them died After the Friday decision, they let loose their online trolls that started attacking the activists They began to say that the activists were being funded by the foreign NGOs The leftist NGOs, the liberal NGOs and the Christians were funding them to hamper our Vikas and development They are against the metro as well as against development The main job of these trolls was to distract the attention of the public by claiming that the people that were protesting were against the metro But this wasn’t the truth Every person that was protesting to save the Aarey forest was also in favour of the metro The only demand of these activists and the protesters was to construct this metro shed at some other location The activists claim that there are so many other areas where the metro shed could be alternatively constructed But the government maintains that it has already scoured all the other sites and has analysed all the technical data The Aarey forest is the only place where constructing a metro shed would be the most suitable and also the most economically feasible Especially, there is one alternative site that was being considered very seriously for a very long time and that is the Kanjumarg Land This is an unused salt-pan land, which is no longer a Salt Pan. It has now become a dry land You can see how it looks in the picture This is the place which, the activists suggested, could be utilized to construct a metro shed But government had two problems with this land the first is that if they were to construct a metro shed in this place then they would have to lay an extra line of about 10 kilometers That would incur additional costs The second reason is that this is a disputed land There have been ongoing litigations and legal cases over this land And therefore (they said that) they could not work on this land But the activists countered both the points First – they showed that within Kanjumarg lies a huge area of 97 hectares which isn’t disputed and is litigation free So a metro shed could be constructed there very easily They countered the second point by claiming that there won’t be any addition cost for an extra 10 kilometer line because a line had to pass by anyway Infact, the government has admitted that it will get the metro shed of metro 6 constructed at Kanjumarg So their reasons don’t seem to hold ground anymore because a metro shed is going to be constructed there So the activists said that if they could construct the metro shed of metro 6 in the Kanjumarg area they could also built the shed for metro 3 since a large area is available for the same In response to this, the government maintains that this cannot be done because it would lead to a lot of crowding in the area And put forward reasons like it was not technically feasible This is the same thing that they claimed before the Bombay High Court during the hearing that the Kanjumarg land was kept reserved for Metro 6 and they could not get the work of metro 3 done, there The activists say that this isn’t about 2000 trees This is about saving the entire Aarey forest Because the government is using the metro shed as a mere excuse to breach into the Aarey forest and start some development Because they claim that the government plans to build a 33 storeyed Metro Bhavan with restaurants and gyms They’re even planning to build a zoo They even have plans to construct commercial buildings near this metro shed So basically, under pressure from the real estate lobby, they want to commercialize the entire area They want to sell the entire Aarey forest to the real estate lobby And this real estate reason sounds quite believable to me because things like these have already happened in our country Take the example of Bangalore This is Bangalore’s satellite imagery of the past 50 years The green areas were forests, the blue areas were rivers Look at how gradually from 1973 to 2003-10 and by 2020, the entire area became a concrete jungle The same thing could easily happen in Mumbai Hence it is very necessary to raise our voice Even though, they already have axed 2000 trees that night And by the time this matter reached the Supreme Court, then on Monday, they say that their work is done. They won’t cut anymore trees But observing realistically and historically, they are not going to stop like this It is very important to protect the remaining forest and for that, seeking justice is essential Therefore it is very important to keep protesting and keep raising our voices If you liked this video, then share it If you like my work then you can support me on Patreon.com/DhruvRathee So that I may continue to make videos like these for you in the future We will meet in the next video Thank you.