Mumbai: Tribal community in Aarey unhappy with new projects, say 'jungle is our home'

Representatives from the tribal community accused the government of forcefully evicting them from their houses in order to go ahead with the project.

Saptak DattaUpdated: Friday, July 15, 2022, 09:36 AM IST
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Mumbai: Tribal community in Aarey unhappy with new projects, say 'jungle is our home' | PTI

With the Mumbai Metro shed project inside the Aarey Colony back on track, tribals fear that they will lose their cultural livelihood and habitat forever.

Representatives from the tribal community addressed the media on Thursday and accused the government of forcefully evicting them from their houses in order to go ahead with the project.

Laxmi Gaikwad, a 70-yearold Adivasi woman who was evicted and forced to shift to an SRA project said, “The police forcefully made us vacate our houses. They gave me a house on the 12th floor of a building. What will I do with that house? Can it produce food for me? We don't belong here.”

Gaikwad added that the jungle is their home and she was better off in her natural habitat.

Aarey is a forest area spread across 1,300 hectares near the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), in the northern suburb of Goregaon. Known as the green lung of Mumbai, it is home to several species of plants and animals.

"If indeed the metro car depot work is almost done, why is more land cordoned off beyond 33 hectares,” said Asha Bhoye, a member of the Adivasi community.

She added that they are not slum dwellers and have fought for a year to prove their identity. “Meanwhile, you (authorities) kept doing your work of destroying our ancestral land,” Bhoye said.

According to activists, the issue is not about the metro shed but against all proposed real estate, commercial, and amusement projects planned in Aarey, like the 33-storey Metro Bhavan and Regional Transport Office (RTO).

The tribals believe that history is once again repeating itself and be it the veterinary college or film city, they have only suffered to see their pristine forest being taken away.

"All the projects that have come to Aarey have displaced Adivasis and created a problem for us,” Dinesh Habale of the Adivasi Haqq Samvardhan Samiti said, echoing the sentiments at all tribals living in the region.

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