Development at What Cost?

In our continued fight to save the Aarey forest in Mumbai from the deadly clutches of the Metro car shed, I want to bring to the fore one point, which I have been time and again trying to put across to some of my friends, who feel content with the authorities’ promise of either partial transplantation or alternate tree plantation to compensate for the imminent damage to the Aarey forest.

This is not a clump of trees standing in the way of a proposed urban development scheme, where hacking them down with a promise of afforestation would appear to be a compromising solution. Aarey is a forest, an ecosystem, built up over decades, by a multitude of lives. It is a multi-tiered microcosm, a world comprising of living creatures right from several layers beneath the soil right up to the tops of the trees.

The microorganisms living in the subsoil, insects like beetles, ants and earthworms in the loamy mass of fallen leaves, the streams flowing by with amphibians and fishes, reptiles living in the security of the shrubs, small mammals grazing in the pastures, birds nesting in the trees and seeking shade of the leafy canopy under the harsh sun. It takes scores of years for mother nature to bring all her children together and give them a home where they can all live in harmony.

It is this harmony which we are bent on destroying, it is this home which we are determined to raze. I rest my case for you to decide – may good sense prevail.

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