This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Rais Ibrahim Shaikh. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Aarey: Is The Destruction Of This Forest The Beginning Of The End?

More from Rais Ibrahim Shaikh

WhyOnEarth logo mobEditor’s Note: Are you bothered by the drastic changes in our climate, causing extreme weather events and calamities such as the Kerala Floods? #WhyOnEarth aims to take the truth to the people with stories, experiences, opinions and revelations about the climate change reality that you should know, and act on. Have a story to share? Click here and publish.

“Nature doesn’t recognise good or bad, it only recognises balance and imbalance.”

It is obvious that the crisis we face today is well recognised as a man-made crisis in the sense that is the natural outcome of the terrible atrocities that powerful humans have committed against our own land. The traditional worldview that guided human life in all its aspects was replaced by so-called modern-technology.

The idea that unlimited physical comforts developed by the West, in the West, and thrust upon the rest of the world, developed into new theory and ideology known as developmentalism. On the 150th birth anniversary of our Mahatma, a Chipko Movement was almost seen at the soon-to-be metro car-shed site, Aarey. The Chipko Movement was based on the Gandhian philosophy of peaceful resistance (hugging the trees) to protect the trees from the wood-cutters.

In hindsight of the first decade of the 21st century, the devastating nature of contemporary civilisation is clear to us. Humans here view the earth as a place to to dominate and control, and manipulate nature using science and technology. The recent progress of building a metro car-shed at the Aarey forest site which is located on the banks of the river Mithi, seems to be punching a hole in Mumbai’s green lungs. Railway car-sheds fall into Red Category Industries which cause the highest level of pollution.

Grease, oil, acids, and paints will be discharged into the nearby Mithi. Probable chances of groundwater pollution cannot be ignored, as this Aarey depot plot is the sole surviving natural flood plain of Mithi and home to many species of trees and other creatures.

Comparing Mumbai with other major cities of the world, antagonists claim that Mumbai’s 90 lakh trees (55 lakh in the national park itself) are more in ratio, i.e. 7,800 trees per square kilometres, than Tokyo, New York, and London. The upcoming metro will reduce lakhs of vehicles thus improving the air quality which around two crore trees would have done.

Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) claims that only 17% of the forest area would be used which has around 60% non-native and exotic trees which can be replaced reducing the overall carbon footprint. The fact to be noted here is that 7 days of metro operation is projected to cut carbon-dioxide equivalent to that absorbed by 2700 trees in a year. As truly said by someone, “nature doesn’t recognise good or bad, it only recognises balance and imbalance.”

Gandhi warns in his first book Hind Swaraj that as modern civilisation functions on the basis of an instrumental view of physical nature and human beings, it will turn out to be a nine-day-wonder or even take humanity to its doom, unless checked and corrected. The denouement in Aarey is still unsatisfying. Forthcoming projects in the pipeline should consider trees from day zero of project planning itself and not in the construction stage so that the impact of construction is less on the trees and more benefits can be enjoyed cheek-by-jowl post-construction.

The involvement of arboriculturists should be made as mandatory pre-requisite and standards for the Root Protection Area of the trees should be set as construction in these areas will be a constraint below ground surface for root growth.

Nevertheless, development at any cost has become the motto of modern civilisation. It is not without a reason that Gandhi called it a nine-day-wonder. He strongly advocates the ‘green thought’ in our day to day life as well as an economy and developmental model based on natural order to save ourselves from the catastrophe. Truly as said by an Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, “If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence, we could rise up rooted like trees.”

About the author: Rais I. Shaikh is an Associate Academician at IAS Coaching and Guidance Cell of Haj Committee of India, Mumbai.

Featured image source: Aarey Forest; Mehul Bhanushali/Facebook.
You must be to comment.

More from Rais Ibrahim Shaikh

Similar Posts

By Puja Bhattacharjee

By Faustina Johnson

By Tauqueer Ali Sabri

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below