Aaditya asks forest dept to stop wall construction at Aarey zoo site

The Forest department, in a government resolution (GR) on October 9 last year, had approved a grant of Rs 60 lakh for the conservation wall of the zoo. The work order was issued in March before the lockdown came into force.

After the Adivasi community living at Aarey Milk colony and activists protested against the construction of a concrete wall to enclose the site earmarked for a zoo, state Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray asked the state Forest department to get the construction stopped.

Thackeray tweeted, “Received some photos of some old work tendered earlier, happening now in Aarey for a proposed concrete wall. I have asked the authorities to issue ‘stop work’ notice immediately and asked for a report on the same.”

The Forest department, in a government resolution (GR) on October 9 last year, had approved a grant of Rs 60 lakh for the conservation wall of the zoo. The work order was issued in March before the lockdown came into force.

Last year in July, the state government had inked a pact with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to set up an international-standard zoo at Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon. While some trees will be hacked for the construction, the GR did not mention the number.

The state government had then handed over 190 acres of land in Aarey for the project. However, after the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government announced 328.9 hectares of land in Aarey to be declared as ‘reserve forest’, including the plot for the zoo, the project was deemed cancelled. Locals questioned the need for a concrete wall, as the area is included in the “reserve forest”.

A statement issued by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said, “The ‘work order’ being cited by officials is ‘expired’. The party is opposed to the idea of a zoo at Aarey and calls on Mumbaikars to ensure that Aarey stays as it is, which is the outcome of a people’s movement to ‘Save Aarey’. State government should withdraw the proposal for a zoo.”

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