Maharashtra government has issued a final notification of section 4 of the Indian Forest Act for the 808.531 acres of Aarey Colony land, declaring it a reserved forest. The state government, on October 8, had issued a preliminary notification, declaring the 328.90 hectares of Aarey Colony land, comprising 288.43 hectares of dairy development department and 40.46 hectares of the Forest Department near Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) as a reserved forest.
Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray, in a tweet, said, ''Delighted to share that @MahaForest has issued the notification of section 4 of the Indian Forest Act for 808.531 acres in Aarey. I don’t recall any other city at par with Mumbai's size and commercial importance giving this status to such a huge land in its city limits. Truly historic.''
Aaditya, along with Forest Secretary Milind Mhaiskar, met Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who gave the assent for the declaration of section 4 for Aarey.
As per the notification, the Forest Settlement Officer Konkan will hold an inquiry about the rights, nature and scope of this land. The area to be excluded from the forest will be ascertained after seeking suggestions and objections from citizens. Since the issue of notification, suggestions and objections are expected to be submitted within three months.
Constructions of all types, roads, slums, adivasi pockets and government facilities will be excluded from the first phase of the initiative. The slum rehabilitation will continue as a parallel exercise.
An appeal can be made against the Forest Settlement Officer’s decision to the Mumbai Suburban District Collector. Thereafter, the government will issue a notification under section 20 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. The entire reserved forest will come under the Forest Department’s jurisdiction.