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Friday, December 8, 2023

Maha govt set to commercialize Aarey land, environmentalists maintain a studied silence

Aarey land that ‘environmentalist’ Aditya Thackeray and others of the secular-liberal brigade wanted to ‘protect‘ from destruction due to the construction of the metro shed under then CM Devendra Fadnavis is now set to be monetized by the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi Government).

A report by ToI says that a five-member committee has been appointed by the dairy development and animal husbandry department to monetize Aarey land owned by it. The committee would be headed by Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) planning and transport director Madhav Kale. The committee will advise the government on how the land can be monetized. So much for Aditya Thackeray’s love for the environment.

TOI says:

The GR stated that if the department develops its dilapidated dairies and hospitals in urban areas on a BOT basis, it would not only get upgraded infrastructure free of cost but also raise funds for other projects. The decision has been taken following a meeting held by minister Sunil Kedar in February.

Readers may recall that the Thackeray government had earlier arbitrarily canceled the metro shed project on Aarey land citing environmental concerns and stating that the said land was a ‘forest area’. The hue and cry raised by Thackerays while canceling the much-needed Aarey metro shed project and the u-turn by the Thackeray government are in no way surprising.

The hypocrisy of the ruling Shiv Sena is also nothing new. While it stalled the Aarey metro shed project as it was concerned with the environmental impact of cutting down trees, it was more than happy to allow 300 trees to be axed for the construction of a metro line, the elevated Metro-2A corridor between Dahisar and DN Nagar.

Then again, environmental concerns of Shiv Sena in general and Aditya Thackeray in particular, went into hibernation while the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation was asked by the Sena to chop down 1000 trees for the construction of the Bal Thackeray Memorial in Priyadarshini Park.

The numerous NGOs (Non-governmental organizations) that sang praises of the MVA government have now conveniently turned a blind eye to the latest development. Recall how viciously the same ‘environmentalists’ had targeted the Fadnavis-led BJP government.

The Secular-liberal model follows a set pattern. First, raise voice under garbs of some -ism (environmentalism in this case) to stall development work, once outrage dies and the media spotlight moves away, the wheeler-dealers move in to cut their deals and share the spoils.

NGOs are some of the biggest roadblocks as far as development is concerned and it is no different in the Aarey land issue as well. In the Aarey case as well, the public has been hoodwinked by NGOs in general and Vanashakti in particular.

Environmental activism seems to be dictated by who is in power. That environmentalists have gone totally silent on the latest development of commercializing Aarey land only proves that their opposition to the Aarey metro shed project under the BJP government had more to do with politics than environmental concerns. Probably, as per activists trees being permitted to be cut down by a secular combination of Congress, NCP, and Sena are only beneficial for the environment.

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