A short poem and my two cents dedicated to Aarey Milk Colony

A lush green lung of Mumbai, 3100 acres of it providing food, shelter and oxygen to one and all

The birds chirping, squirrels fighting, herons fishing, leopards hunting and deers grazing

Protecting the precious water stores of Vihar and Tulsi, the lifeline of Mumbai

All a part of Borivali National Park, a protected relm, where the great spotted cat ruled

A home to a surprising variety of flora and fauna, including some hidden gems

The trap door tarantula, the fungoid frog, the spotted owl, the moon moth, the forest spotted gecko

Many more remain undiscovered, waiting for our next generations to uncover

Once upon a time there was Aarey!

Environment vs Development, humans vs animals – this battle has been going on for ages, which has especially intensified in the last 100 years as cities become mega cities, villages become towns and so on.

The demands of humans on land is ever increasing and in a country like India with a population of 1.25 billion, the pressure is even more evident everywhere.

Lets take the example of Gurgaon or Gurugram. This extension of our capital New Delhi is located on the north eastern end of the Great Aravalli Range. The plush, modern Gurugram malls and offices are constructed by destroying these historic mountains. The Aravalli range is the oldest mountain range dating back to times when the Indian Plate was separated from the Eurasian Plate by an ocean.

This great mountain range once created rains by blocking the southwest monsoon clouds thus helping the raise ground water levels. But slowly and steadily successive governments freely allowed construction on and near the range and now they stand barren and broken!

The same is the case with our very own Borivali National Park. Once the park extended right till Powai and the Powai Lake was within the precincts of the park. Now this part is a plush Hiranandani Estate!

With pressure on the park increasing, we can see residential buildings right inside the park both on western side near Borivali and Malad and on eastern side of Mulund and Thane.

The fact that a part of the park itself was given to Aarey is an issue. There are so many other small pieces of land given away eg the Film City, Royal Palms, veterinary college, modern bakery, the list is never ending!

From my point of view, the question is not about Metro 3 or 4, it is about the total green cover and biodiversity in Mumbai (and in the world in general). The authorities does not understand the difference between a forest and tree cover. By compensating the felled trees somewhere else does not create Biodiversity! A forest or a jungle sustains a variety of biodiversity which takes years to build up!

A city like Mumbai is lucky to have a wildlife rich national park within its city limits and its one of a kind in the world. The forest protects the two lakes from where we get water. With increasing demand on land, one day there will be no forest! This is happening everywhere in the world. If the forest goes away, how will the water be collected in the lakes? How are we going to replenish the lakes and from where will we find water to supply to Mumbai!

As city planners, we need to think 100 to 200 years ahead and plan for roads, water, housing, garbage and other civic amenities for the citizens! Are we thinking deep enough, are we headed towards Day Zero (water) even in Mumbai? What will happen if the southwest monsoon fails!

With the current approach, we are surely headed towards Day Zero for Amchi Mumbai!