The Uddhav Thackeray led MVA government has recently taken several steps to protect the forested Aarey region of the city. On October 11, the Chief Minister had announced the scrapping of the Aarey metro car shed and said the project will now come up at Kanjurmarg. At the same time, he said that the State government has withdrawn cases registered against people who were protesting against the proposed metro car shed in Aarey.
For the unitiated, the Aarey forest or Aarey Colony is a neighbourhood in the Goregaon (East) suburb of the city. It falls within the eco sensitive zone of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and the massive green space is one of the few such areas in the city. A few weeks earlier, the Maharashtra government had announced their intent to reserve 600 acre or about 20 per cent of the total 3,166 acres of Aarey land near the Sanjay Gandhi National Park as a forest.
More recently, on October 8, the state forest department had issued a first notice to categorise around 810 acres of the Aarey Colony as a reserve forest.
Now, it would seem that more concrete steps have been taken to preserve the Aarey region. On Wednesday, state Environment and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray took to Twitter stating that the Maharashtra Forest Department had "issued the notification of Section 4 of Indian Forest Act for 808.531 acres in Aarey".
"I wholeheartedly thank CM Uddhav Thackeray ji, DCM Ajit Pawar ji, RM Balasaheb Thorat ji, Dairy Min Sunil Kedar ji and Forest Min Sanjay Rathod ji. I don’t recall any other city at par with Mumbai’s size and commercial importance, giving this status to such a huge land area in its city limits. Truly historic!" he added.
Section 4 in The Indian Forest Act pertains to the notification by the state government when any land is being constituted as a reserved forest.