Be A Smart Environment Crusader: Support The Metro Depot At Aarey 

Be A Smart Environment Crusader: Support The Metro Depot At Aarey 

by Gampa Saidatta - Oct 8, 2019 02:30 PM +05:30 IST
Be A Smart Environment Crusader: Support The Metro Depot At Aarey A ‘Save Aarey’ activist hugging a tree (@ANI/Twitter)
  • ‘Save Aarey’ activists are somehow ignoring the gigantic reductions in carbon emissions that line 3 of Mumbai Metro alone will effect.

    Don’t be like them. Be an ‘Environment Crusader’, but a smart one.

Nowadays, the public, particularly youngsters, are viewing the planting of saplings and trees as the only way to combat global warming.

This wrong perception is the main reason behind the ‘Save Aarey’ protests. Armchair environmentalists who like to virtue-signal through their social media platforms used the ‘Save Aarey’ protests to develop their green activist image among their peers.

The Hindi film fraternity, which is known for its hypocrisy, further increased the number of these ignorant supporters.

Everyone including me want the problem of global warming to be addressed, but what are the means we are deploying?

Trees are just one among many means to fight global warming. Deploying carbon sequestration technologies is another. Carbon sequestration means the capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Using public transport systems like Mumbai metro are yet other efficient means.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) clearly states that Mumbai Metro line 3 will effect carbon emission reductions of 26 lakh tonnes within a decade (2021 - 2030) of its commissioning.

On an average, a tree can absorb 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. This roughly leads to 48 tonnes for around 2,200 trees which were axed for the construction of the Metro rail depot.

So what is our priority between 2.6 lakh tonnes and 48 tonnes of carbon reduction per annum?

Do the ‘Save Aarey’ activists have an answer?

Thus, combating global warming requires a multi-pronged strategy which includes encouraging eco-friendly public transport systems like the Metro.

Need For Introspection And Activism Based On Facts

People opposing the Metro shed at Aarey often point that they are only against the location of depot and not Metro as a whole.

But they must understand that there is no Metro without a depot. And locating the depot at Aarey is very important as the depot must be located near the alignment.

Activists opposing the depot also want it to be shifted to Kanjurmarg, which is 10 km further.

They must understand that it leads to cost escalation of around Rs. 5,000 crore, which is huge for a capital-starved country like India.

Also, some part of that land is under dispute and the government has admitted that it plans to construct the metro line 6 (Lokhandwala to Kanjurmarg) depot at the undisputed part of the land.

So, clearly, Kanjurmarg is not an option for the depot.

Besides, we must note that the depot at Aarey satiates the demand for large vacant land of just one Metro line, that is line 3 (Colaba to SEEPZ).

There are five more metro lines under construction, and along with it, five more lines were approved recently. So, if we cannot construct even one Metro depot without protests, will it be possible at all to construct 10 more similar depots?

Can Mumbai ever see a world-class public transport network amidst the misplaced environmentalism based on propaganda?

A Request To Activists

It must be noted that any positive change is bound to have some negative impact. If ‘Save Aarey’ activists ignore this fact, they will harm environmentalism as a whole.

Instead of stalling an eco-friendly project that Mumbai desperately awaits, urban environmentalists must vouch for more afforestation measures in barren lands of the hinterland.

Cities are a process; they compete with their peers and they face death if they do not compete.

Already, Mumbai is losing its sheen to either Delhi or Bengaluru. The Metro network increases the competitiveness of Mumbai and rejuvenates the city. Thus for now, let’s pray the environmentalists leave Aamchi (our) Mumbai alone.

Gampa Saidatta is a student at the Centre for Urban Policy and Governance, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

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