The cutting of 2646 trees at Aarey forest to facilitate the creation of Metro station has assumed comedic proportions now.
Cutting of trees is bad and planting of trees is good. And, in the same breath we say that ‘development’ is good’ and not developing modern facilities is bad.
Development, as we know it today, does not happen in a vacuum. It needs resources, space, and sacrifices. If you choose a life of AC versus say an open room with hot breeze, there are sacrifices you are making both ways. An AC will impact the environment in all sorts of ways – the metal that makes the AC, the electric components that go in it, the electricity that powers it and the subsequent pollution (noise, air) that it creates will harm the environment. On the other hand, the hot breeze brings discomfort and sometimes, if not handled properly, even death.
Scale and trade-offs
We want jobs. The companies giving those jobs do not open their offices in your home. You have to commute to that place. And, you are not alone. In a city like Mumbai, there are millions like you going back and forth in that narrow stretch of the island. The trains that are there are legendary for being over-flowing. And deadly.
In Mumbai, every day 8 million people use the trains which run 2800 trips. The daily death toll on those trains is 8 or 9. Everyday! On June 26, 2019, no death occurred on Mumbai locals and it was national news! The main cause of deaths are “falling off crowded trains or owing to trespassing on suburban railway tracks.”
Let me put this in perspective – the entire population of New York is a little over 8 million. In Mumbai that many people travel the locals every day! And, this is beside the cars and other vehicles on the roads which are perennially clogged.
With a city’s population growing every day (it has more than doubled since 1991!), we need solutions of a much larger scale. A scale that can expand and add more people to its capacity in a quick time interval. We need a transport system that can accommodate adding say, 1 million more travelers in a span of 2-3 years.
Apart from a train system that caters to the masses, there aren’t a whole lot of options. Roads are no option, so isn’t air travel within the city, yet.
Solutions for such a population and at this kind of growth rate requires trade-offs.
Trees for trees in Aarey Forest
What are those trade-offs? Creating a metro by impacting a few trees in Aarey forest is one of them. The government has – in its defense – planted more trees elsewhere in Mumbai to compensate for the “sin” of cutting these trees.
It is this trade-off that Bombay High Court has discussed in its judgment regarding the cutting of trees in Aarey forest.
The Bombay High Court while dismissing the petitions said that MMRCL has already planted 20,900 trees with GPS tagging on each plant in Sanjay Gandhi National Park and the survival rate was 95% according to the letter by the Chief Conservator Forest and Director Sanjay Gandhi National Park to the Chief Project Manager of MMRCL. Further, the project was being monitored by foreign agencies on the environmental impact and financed by Japan International Cooperative Agency (JICA) and registered with the United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCC).
“The aforesaid Carbon di-oxide sequestration of 2702 trees for their entire lifetime calculated at 12,79,062 kg would be compensated in 3948 fully loaded trips of Metro Trains operating,” the Judgement said. (source)
You see, the government has done what a government can do while ensuring it can create the infrastructure that works for the city. Status quo was not the solution. So it created the solution. Not perfect. But a solution anyhow. If you can improve it, do so. If you cannot, then trying to arrest change and infrastructure while handling environmental concerns, just makes you an anti-social idiot!
Activist need to lead by example
So, for all those activists whose hearts bleed for the trees? They need to start a movement. To master the art of moving objects from a distance. For, in the current state – they cannot use bicycles to travel to their work. No roads you see. And, they cannot use trains for long, without getting killed or killing someone else. And, transcendental flying is really not a solution as yet.
So, either you close down Mumbai or find solutions. Status quo in infrastructure, while work, commerce and population grow, is NOT a solution anymore! There is a better word for that.
Suicide. Collective one at that!
If these activists are really serious and want the change to happen, they need to start a movement starting with personal choices:
- Sterilize themselves – men and women – so they never have kids. Promote that everywhere
- Do not use any gadget, AC, car, or plastic
- And then, leave Mumbai
If they are not willing to do that, their agitation is like the many meat-eaters trying to protest against Jalli-kattu. “I can kill the environment, but you cannot work on it!” It does not even remain hypocritical anymore. It becomes sick and shrewdly diabolical. You know what you are doing and you know that it is entrenched in falsehood, but you still want to do it, because you have a career elevator pitch to sell.
When your concern for the environment is reduced to a career elevator pitch, where the career sought is either in politics or activism, then you are not an activist anymore. You are a scoundrel.
You don’t give a rat’s ass about the environment, for you cannot make the sacrifices. But you want others to do so. While you move around in your oh-so-amazing luxury cars blasting AC at full power to make your sweat from hard activism go away. And, from there you want to lecture on the environment. Now, that’s rich!
Aarey forest trees are not the only trees that will suffer because of such antipathy for real change. The whole planet will suffer. Mindless activism is a mental disease. No other way to look at it.