It is easier to cut trees than evacuate people from an area stipulated for development, infrastructure or real estate projects, thanks to the trees lack of voice and resistance.
So is the situation awaiting the 3000-acre green cover of Aarey Milk Colony in the suburbs of Goregaon, which has been in constant peril of facing the axe, owing to various ambitious development projects.
Touted as the green lungs of Mumbai, Aarey is home to some of the oldest trees in the city. Identified as the site for Metro car shed in 2015, the plan included chopping down close to 3,500 trees to make way for the shed.
While the project has found large-scale resistance from the people in the city, nothing really has been able to put it on hold, except for a namesake stay order by the national green tribunal.
Taking inspiration from Chipko movement of 1973, Maati Baani, an indie music duo and seasoned actor, Piyush Mishra have come together to raise awareness amidst people to save the last green patch in the concrete jungles of Mumbai and fight for our trees before it is too late.
‘Chipko re’ is a wake-up call for the Mumbaikars to save Aarey before more high-rising buildings would be erected on foundations construed of dead carcasses of trees.
Another chapter to save Mumbai’s last green lung, Aarey Colony, unfolds with actor-playwright Piyush Mishra stepping in. The multi-talented artiste, along with the band Maati Baani, penned a song titled ‘Chipko’ Re in a bid to save more than 3,000 trees from going under the axe. The trees will be cut to make way for a car shed for Mumbai’s Metro Line 3, proposed to be built in the lush environs of the colony.
Mishra, who lives near Aarey, wrote the song after the chipko movement, with thought-provoking lyrics that talk about how we are severing our bond with nature. The goosebump-inducing track showing how the residents are actively coming together to replicate the Chipko movement or Clinging to trees to save them; a heroic tradition from Rajasthan where 363 people from the Bishnoi sect in Rajasthan gave their lives in 1730 AD while protecting green Khejri tree.
Nirali, one-half of the band Maati Baani, who has composed the song along with her husband Karthik Shah, says the duo know it is an uphill battle. “We are well aware that the only arsenal we have to fight with is music. But after seeing how passionate everyone here is about saving Aarey, we thought that this was a battle worth fighting, even if it meant fighting and losing. After all, the green cover of Mumbai is something all of us have a stake in.”
While the city battles to breathe in fresh air, the news of taking away its green cover is a dreadful thought. What might happen to Mumbai if trees in Aarey are chopped? In a bid to assert the importance of trees for a habitable society, Maati Baani, a music band, and renowned actor Piyush Mishra have joined hands.
“Mumbai breathes because of Aarey and it is our responsibility to save them from getting cut”, Piyush Mishra has urged citizens.
Mishra and his wife Priya have been strongly vocal in their support of protection the environment and Aarey for Mumbai. The couple lives near Aarey.
The veteran actor has penned a song, ‘Chipko Re’ for the music band to save the fate of over 3000 trees from getting axed. The state government has planned to use that portion of Aarey for setting up the car shed for the proposed Metro Line 3 and has been the subject of dispute between activists in the city and the govt.
“Is it right to chop off the forest in the name of development?” asks the lyricist.
“Where would we all go? Have you been to Aarey? It is so peaceful and quiet and serene that you don’t feel at all that you are in Mumbai. It is our responsibility to save Aarey and our forest bodies.”
In the year 1972, a group of activists, led by Sundarlal Bahuguna, hugged trees in the forests of Uttarakhand, starting a widely celebrated ‘Chipko movement’. The initiative witnessed breakthrough success, saving hundreds of trees from corporate and political axes.
“Let’s not compare two campaigns, as they can never be the same. We aren’t copying any movement. Every movement has its own journey, starting and ending points. From 1972 to today, the social conditions have drastically changed. So if a movement takes place today, it has to have relevance to today’s time. This has to be a movement for today,” said Mishra.
The reason for chopping the trees today is different than the reason from that era, he added. “However, on the ground level, the basic question stays the same and it is ‘Why should trees be cut?’ Trees, any tree for that matter, shouldn’t face the axe… that’s all,” he asserted on the need for protecting Mumbai’s lungs.
“Save Aarey is not an issue of a bunch of environmentalists. If we want Mumbai to remain breathable, each and every educated, aware citizen of Mumbai must speak up. Composed by Maatibaani and directed by Manan Sagar ‘Chipko re’ is a song that has powerful lyrics by Piyush Mishra to bring the attention of the people to the serious impact that we could all face if the 3500 trees of Aarey are cut,” said Kartik Shah and Nirali Kartik of Maatibaani in a statement.
However, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRC) had recently told Mirror, “With approval from the state cabinet, the government has handed over the car depot land which is outside the Eco Sensitive Zone to MMRC for Metro car depot and allied use. MMRC is adequately empowered to carry out construction activity for Mumbai Metro Line III. There is no restraining order from NGT. All our activities are conducted in legally permitted manner for the timely completion of the project which is the need of the hour for changing Mumbai’s public transport scenerio.”