On Wednesday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray made an announcement stating that 600-acres of land in the Aarey Milk Colony near Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) would be reserved as a forest.
They have made the decision to invoke Section 4 of the Indian Forest Act in respect of 600 acres in the 3,000-acres colony.
600 acres of Aarey land near Sanjay Gandhi National Park will be reserved as forests. This will be the first instance of an extensive forest blossoming within the limits of a metropolis anywhere in the world. pic.twitter.com/T1zkgB6WkL— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) September 2, 2020
Section 4 implies that the government intends to declare the land as reserve forest by appointing a forest settlement officer. Environment Minister, Aaditya Thackeray added that this decision was a joint venture between Dairy Development Department Minister, Sunil Kedar and Forest Minister, Sanjay Rathod. The fact that at least 600 acres of land can be saved from the forest comes as a sigh of relief to the city.
Phase 2 survey for additional open/ forest land in Aarey, post Phase 1 will begin soon. This would help the State protect the flora & fauna existent in SGNP and Aarey.— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) September 2, 2020
The Aarey Forest is the last standing patch of greenery in Mumbai and has been constantly under threat of development projects. In 2018, the cutting of 3,500 trees for the construction of a car shed for the upcoming Mumbai Metro 3 was proposed. However, the construction was halted soon after due to several protests and opposition. Now, the decision to save a part of it as a ‘Reserve Forest’ is definitely a step in the right direction.