A recent report says that Aarey Colony, the green lungs of Mumbai city, will be reduced to just 14% of its current size as a part of development initiatives.
Would the upcoming educational campuses on Aarey land, such as national or state institutes of urban planning, management studies, etc, be able to teach students sustainable living, urban planning, environmental conservation, ethical industry practices, moral values and enhanced living on the land where ethnic cleansing of thousands of trees have taken place? Would the proposed health centres and sports complexes be able to imbibe a healthy lifestyle in the citizens at the cost of the pure oxygenated air that the green cover currently provides?
Would human infiltration by virtue of the proposed theme park further add to the encroachment of the remaining 232 hectares of green cover, and disturb the natural flora and fauna with sound pollution at odd hours? Would the green lifeline of Mumbai be garnished with waste accumulation and compromised sanitation? Why should the east-west road link and the bus transit system, that promise more intercity connectivity, not use underutilized areas available within the city and be developed only on this green space?
By losing the connectivity with nature, we can reach only one destination faster – death.
What is the purpose of development in any city or nation? Any and all development is aimed at improving the life satisfaction index of the population and thereby raising its happiness quotient. A nation is said to progress when its human resource has achieved optimum physical, mental and spiritual well being.
For the physical well-being, it is very important that human beings stay closer to nature. The human heart is designed to beat in rhythm with the rhymes of birds, our eyes are rejuvenated by beautiful flowers, our feet relax through walking on grass, and our entire body cheers with pure oxygenated air from the tress. Pure air from trees helps in increasing oxygen saturation, which leads to higher work output and enhanced productivity of human resources. Besides, by enhancing physical and mental health, nature contributes immensely towards spiritual growth.
Development does not constitute feeding the hedonism of the human resource of the country, which acts as an income generator for the government. Development does not mean increasing consumerism, which enables ROI (Return On Investment) on FDIs (Foreign Direct Investments). If the development of a city or a nation is not able to raise the happiness quotient of its population, it is futile. This explains why some of the most developed countries have high incidences of depression and mental illness. Happiness is possible only with sustainable development, where there is enhanced interaction between man and his source of existence – nature.
The proposed massacre of the Aarey Green Space will give way to large open space infrastructure modelled around New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde Park. According to data from the World Health Organization, Mumbai ranks very low compared to New York and London in terms of air quality, sanitation, waste management, green space and parks. In everything from emissions control, urban ecology, to environmental stewardship, cities across the world are far ahead of Mumbai with their elected officials and business leaders taking strong action towards making the quality of life sustainable and worthwhile.
In order to put Mumbai on par with other international cities, there are many strategic initiatives that the government should focus on, like resource conservation, waste management, modern and sustainable infrastructure development, sanitation, water conservation, improving air quality, cultural development, optimizing transport system, and lots more than wasting resources on massacring the green space at Aarey Colony.
This vision deficient development project has plans for cultural activities to flourish. Nature is the breeding ground for art and culture. It has inspired artists, poets, musicians, painters, alike. Festivals across the globe are associated with nature. No cultural activities can ensue at a site where ruthless annihilation of nature has taken place.
Thus, all the plans for the development of Aarey colony are nothing but potential profit opportunities for a few, which are well camouflaged under the pretext of public interest and development. In the age of sustainable living, when everything from manufacturing to consumption is going sustainable, this large-scale slaughter of barely available green land in the city is anti-development.