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Metro Bhavan skyscraper, new suicidal threat to Aarey

Protecting the Aarey Forest was at the centre of a citizen-driven protest last year. The forest is under threat yet again. The government has planned another 33-storey skyscraper ‘Metro Bhavan’ which will eat into whatever is left of the urban forest. This building will be in addition to the notorious Aarey Metro shed that environmentalists were protesting against.
The MMRDA has already begun construction work, pretty furtively, in October 2019 itself. The state urban development department had issued a notification in August 2019, changing the land-use of the 2.03-hectare plot (which was previously in a no-development zone), to allow the construction of Metro Bhavan and allied structures. This would include a permanent re-servicing station, a temporary labour camp and a steel machinery yard.
Constructing this skyscraper will require the chopping of at least 70 trees on the plot, which the conservation group says is in an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. They feel more green areas within Aarey may be hived off in future on some or the other pretext. “If citizens don’t wake up, Aarey will be gone before anyone knows it,” Stalin D from Vanashakti told Hindustan Times.
If you carefully look at the proposal, Metro Bhavan is actually commercial building disguised as an administrative government building. It will have commercial spaces available on lease. The proposed area for Metro Bhavan is near Seepz where a number of commercial establishments are already located. In comparison to its 33 floors, Delhi Metro Bhavan is merely 8 floors high and handles a lot more traffic than Mumbai. The government is holding a mandatory public hearing to hear out “objections from the public” on video conference today. For a better grasp on the situation, watch this introduction video to the public hearing on the Aarey Conservation Group Facebook page:


Stalin’s warning may ring true. If we don’t participate in this public hearing against Metro Bhavan, the “forest” in Aarey Forest may soon disappear, and we will be left with another concrete BKC-like complex. Take, for example, the fact that the Maharashtra government had sanctioned a zoological park across 76.8 hectares and the state forest department plans to rehabilitate encroachments within the national park across a 36.42-hectare plot within Aarey.