Ahead of BMC elections, activists led by AAP’s Preeti Sharma Menon join hands to save Aarey

by Web Desk | Updated: 2017-02-18

As the Metro 3 car shed matter has still not been resolved, citizens and activists led by Aam Aadmi Party’s Preeti Sharma Menon on Friday appealed Mumbaikars to vote to save Aarey.
At the press conference held at Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh, speakers besides Menon included, CPI state secretary Bhalchandra Kango, Amrita Bhattacharya from Aarey Conservation Group, Raghu Ram of Roadies fame, reputed Marathi writer and artist Sanjeev Khandekar, artist Vaishali Narkar and advertising professional, Ram Subramanian.
Stalin Dayanand of Vanashakti, was missing due to a National Green Tribunal (NGT) hearing about another forest matter, but appealed to the press and public via a pre-recording.
Opening the appeal, Menon said, “Today I am neither wearing the party’s (AAP) cap, nor banner, because this is not the party’s matter, today I am here as the aam junta. We are here to support the Save Aarey movement…our heart beats for Mumbai. Aarey is the only other green sanctuary left besides Sanjay Gandhi National Park.”
“Wherever the government sets foot, it wants more. First it only wanted to build the metro shed, then the station, admin department, labour camp. When NDA came to power, the CM had had given us his word that Aarey would not be touched, but what’s the value of those words? They formed a committee with babus and only two environmentalists, who disagreed with the construction, but their opinion was overlooked and permission was granted for the metro shed. We request them again – we have chosen you, we’ll give you one more chance, just give us your word. We are asking all parties to clear their stand about Aarey and tell us,” Menon added.
Bhattacharya pointed out the effects of global warming and added, “It’s a river catchment area and if the car shed is built there, flooding will take place in Chakala and the airport.”
Mona Ambegaonkar, who was missing at the venue, but joined live via the phone added, “during high tide, Bandra, Gorai, all the suburbs will face flooding, while reminding citizens of the loss of biodiversity, and harm to endangered species like the stone python it will lead to.
CPI’s Kango’s concern on the other hand was that as per various international researchers, seismic activity can wipe out the city if such developments continue.
Ram Subramanian’s video urged the youth to identify parties who are willing to Save Aarey and inform friends and family to only vote for those and boycott others.
“This is the fight for the future. There were more trees earlier, there are fewer now. But they are still there. Once they go, they won’t come back. In 10-15 years what will our air quality be? When I told my young colleagues regarding some event about BMC elections, they asked me whom are you voting for? I said: the trees of Aarey. This is something we need to take up as an issue for election,” said Raghu Ram.
He even threatened parties saying, “We’ll campaign against you, tell the youth not to vote you if saving Aarey and non-construction of the metro shed is not part of your manifesto, if you don’t giving it to us in writing or orally it will be a problem for you”.
But it’s not an empty threat, in order to pressurise parties, Priti and the others have started #VoteToSaveAarey on Twitter, where some citizens as well as AAP supporters are putting out more video appeals. A few known persons include Vishal Dadlani, Sanjeev Khandekar and Raghu Ram.
In the coming days their app will enable people to directly put up videos and they have also planned to video-record and share with people what different parties say on the matter. If need be, Menon said, “We’ll start a chipko movement.”