Aarey Facts: In light of propaganda and misinformation

It is imperative to bring out the facts and create mass awareness about the truth in the wake of the propaganda to subdue the citizen’s protest against the destruction of a forest, wildlife habitat, tributaries, and floodplain in Aarey Forest – Mumbai.

The following information is facts, which is already available in public domain, we have collated it from civil society groups, which comprises of biodiversity and environment experts and citizens

Myth 1: 
Only 2700 trees are cut out of 4 lakh trees in Aarey. There is no need to worry, this is only a small amount of loss 0.6% to Mumbai. 


1. Loss of clean air 
Ideal tree : human ratio is 7-8 trees per person. In Mumbai, we have 1 tree between 4 persons. When this dangerous ratio requires an urgent increase in green cover, losing 2702 trees is unaffordable. 
Please note that the total area that has been denotified (removed) from NDZ (No Development Zone) is 407 acres while the government publicly claims they need only 61 acres for this project.  (Car depots do not require such a large land parcel. Most depots can be made in under 30 acres.) The tree cover under such a large area is much higher than 0.6%. Also, this is precisely how land grabbing is facilitated – steal more land than you need under false pretences and then sell it at a profit.

FUN FACT: Documents suggest that tomorrow they might need to expand the car shed and there is evidence that they not only need the current 81 acres but have requested for 160 acres!!!

If government scams don’t bother you, then perhaps a global climate crisis should. Using this logic, the world has lost an alarming number of its life-giving ecological areas to destructive industrial projects. We have now entered a situation of severe climate crisis because of unrestrained and, more often than not, ill-advised, deeply harmful ‘development’ related activities. The argument that we should still go ahead and continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over again is dangerously stupid. We have lost more forest cover than we can afford, and we are, as we speak, continuing to lose critical forest cover at an alarming rate. At this juncture, we need to desperately preserve and protect every square inch of forest area still intact.

You say it is ‘only’ 0.6%, and we say 0.6% is too much. We cannot spare even a single tree, let alone a forest!

2. Socio-economic loss
The ‘socio-economic’ value of a tree is Rs 23.72 lakh a year, accordingly loosing 2702 trees would mean losing a staggering Rs. 642 crore loss a year. If we go by the average that a healthy tree can provide oxygen for 30 years, the loss would escalate to Rs 22,000 crore.

3. Loss of civilizations and cultures 
The project affects over 27 tribal hamlets & is likely to directly affect over 2,000 indigenous tribal families that have been living here since generations. They’ll be immediately affected by this, while we’ll happily buy air purifiers.

4. Loss of Mithi river floodplain 
Metro 3 Car Shed site at Aarey is floodplains of the Mithi River. Concretisation of floodplains by building a car shed will increase the chances of flooding in flood-prone Mumbai. In fact, we have been seeing more floods in nearby areas ever since the plot is being concretised.

5. Loss of biological corridor for wildlife
Several leopard-spotting incidents in the proposed metro car shed site (both adult and young) have been reported. This area is a biological corridor for the wildlife that Aarey forest nurtures. And building a car shed here would only escalate the human-wildlife conflict.

Myth 2:
Aarey is not a forest.


  • The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) by United Nations has defined forest as:
    • A land with tree crown cover (or equivalent stocking level) of more than 10% and area of more than 0.5 hectare.
    • The trees should be able to reach a minimum height of 5 m at maturity in situ. 
    • Natural forests are forests composed mainly of indigenous trees not deliberately planted. 
  • Aarey fulfills all the above criteria for being entitled to be called a forest.
  • There are several trees which have height of more than 50 feet.
  • Aarey falls under the category of natural forest where there are indigenous trees like double coconut (found in the Western Ghats and north-east India) Mango, Peepul, Jamun, Mahua, Ghost tree, Toddy Palm, Red Silk Cotton, Flame of the forest, Kachnar, Umbar, Banyan, Ber, Ain, Bhend, Haldu, Kalamb, Behda, Teak, Tamarind, Kusum, Amaltash/Indian Laburnum, Karanj, Shisham or Rosewood, Shirish, Gunda, Khirni.

Suppose we define a forest as a complex ecosystem consisting mainly of trees that buffer the earth and support myriad life forms. In that case, Aarey is a forest with mammalian species like leopard, spotted deer, rusty-spotted cat, jungle cat, palm civet, small Indian civet, Indian mongoose, jackal, wild boar, Indian Palm Squirrel, Bonnet Macaque, Rhesus Macaque, Common Langur, flying fox and common Pipistrelle (Bats).

Besides, its rich biodiversity comprises of:

  • 77 different avifauna (birdlife) species
  • 90 different types of spiders
  • 5 species of Tarantula
  • 6 species of scorpions
  • 86 species of butterflies – Plain tiger, striped tiger, common crow, chocolate pansy, common mormon to name a few
  • 6 species of venomous snakes
  • Caeciliaus, rare amphibian discovered at the interiors of Aarey colony
  • 10 rarest species of birds found in Aarey –
    Indian Roller
    Indian Blackbird
    Grey Hornbill
    Chestnut trail Starlings
    Rosy Starlings
    Glossy Ibis
    Loten’s Sunbird
    Spotted Owlets
    Orange headed ground thrush

Myth 3:
Development cannot take place without cutting trees


If development projects cause significant harm to life-sustaining ecological systems, then it is NOT development – it is destruction. No amount of ‘development’ can justify the permanent loss of vital ecosystems.

The western countries that we are so eager to imitate have stringent environmental laws that prohibit polluting industries. The reason why people who travel to ‘white’ countries return amazed at how clean and unpolluted these countries are.

Another Fun Fact:
All the developed economies with advanced infrastructure like US, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, UK has a better tree:human ratio.

Myth 4:
Citizens protesting against cutting 2702 trees in Aarey are against metro.


Protesting citizens have unanimously voiced encouraging a better public transport system in Mumbai. Citizens protesting to save trees require a cleaner and greener transport solution for their city. When it comes to metro line-3, we are clearly against building a car shed for the metro in Aarey forest when alternative sites are available. 

Be it the expert committee set up by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who wrote a strongly worded dissent note, or the corporators of Mumbai who opposed the land-use change at Aarey – The Urban Development Department, headed by the then Chief Minister, decided to overrule it. Is there no say of local bodies and experts in such projects?

There have always been not just alternate but ‘better’ options to locate the Metro 3 depot. Options that would help integrate the different Metro networks more effectively. Despite this, if MMRCL, and by extension, Mr Devendra Fadnavis, continue to insist that the depot be built only in Aarey, then one must assume that their motives are nefarious and people behind this demand are involved in a real estate scam of massive proportions.

Myth 5:
Metro 3 project would reduce carbon dioxide emissions on a larger scale than emissions due to the felling of trees for the project.


Any transport facility that is run on electricity is inherently polluting. And the energy generated to run most transport facilities is coal-based. It is, therefore, safe to assume that the Mumbai Metros are to be coal-powered as well (If this is not the case, then we welcome MMRCL to give us information about how it is they are planning to power their Metros). 

Coal-powered thermal power plants are by far the most popular and the most polluting forms of energy generation. They not only clear thousands of hectares of forest land from where the coal is mined but also poison soil, air, and water wherever they are based.

The latest report on the critical levels of pollution caused by the Koradi & Khaparkheda power plants near Nagpur in Maharashtra: https://www.manthan-india.org/polluted-power-how-koradi-khaperkheda-thermal-power-stations-are-impacting-the-environment/ .

There is a reason for global opposition against coal-powered energy!

Unless facilities like the Metro run on decentralised, sustainable renewable energy options, the claim that Metros or, for that matter, any transport – local trains, buses, private vehicles – are non-polluting or that they reduce emissions is utterly non-sensical and dangerously stupid.

What needs to be debated is how effectively the Metros will reduce road congestion. Transport experts have already criticised the mismanagement and poor planning of the Mumbai Metros. But this is not the point of contention.

The Save Aarey Movement has not been about how the Metros are powered or about whether or not the Metros have been poorly planned. That is a separate debate altogether. It has only and only been about the ‘location’ of a highly polluting Car Depot inside an eco-sensitive area.

Also, here are some other facts:

  1. MMRCL only calculated how much emissions Metro 3 can prevent but did not give the figures of emissions that the operation of Metro 3 will release every day. A study by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar metro railway said the service prevents daily emissions of 22.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide. But the operation releases 75.6 tonnes of CO2 daily because the service consumes electricity for traction, lighting, air-conditioning, escalators, and other facilities. Hence, this metro line currently produces (and does not reduce) a net increase of 52.9 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions daily.
  2. Comparing the capacity for carbon capture of metro 3 with that of the trees is blasphemy. Besides, there are a lot of other benefits that trees provide that the metro cannot offer. 
  • Can metro 3 produce oxygen while capturing CO2 like trees? 
  • Can metro 3 absorb odours and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark?
  • Can Metro 3 cool the city,  provide shading to our homes and streets, break up urban heat, and release water like trees?
  • Can metro 3 reduce run-off like trees by breaking rainfall, allowing the water to flow down the trunk and into the earth below the tree, preventing stormwater from carrying pollutants to the ocean?
  • Can metro 3 act like a sponge that filters the rainwater naturally and uses it to recharge groundwater supplies like trees?
  • Can metro 3 slow runoff and hold soil in place while preventing soil erosion like trees?
  • Can metro 3 nurture and nourish the rich biodiversity like trees?

    If MMRCL can measure the carbon capture of a tree, why didn’t it measure the oxygen that each tree releases?

Myth 6:
Metro will plant more trees for each tree cut. So there will be no harm to the environment.


  • A structurally complex forest like Aarey that has taken centuries to build cannot be substituted by new plantations.
    Mature trees of a forest exist in unison with their other indigenous colleagues and have deep root architectures that can capture carbon (and other nutrients, plus water) more effectively than stand-alone trees which will be planted as a part of the compensatory afforestation.
    Additionally, different sizes and shapes of the leaves in a forest ecosystem absorb different types of pollutants whose effect is seen in cleaner, filtered, and cooler air in the area around the forest. So, to expect saplings to do the job of a full-grown tree is like expecting a newborn baby to take care of a family’s expense, just like the earning member. A sapling requires water, nutrients, and maintenance before it becomes mature enough to perform the role of climate mitigation like its elderly counterparts. 
  • BMC and MMRC have a very poor history of tree transplantation drives.
    As per an RTI response, the BMC’s tree authority permitted cutting 25,018 trees between 2010 and 2016. However, it failed to provide records for the number of trees replanted or transplanted over seven years. This number has only increased, year after year.
    MMRC has not been able to save most of the trees affected by the metro rail. The Bombay high court-appointed committee noted that more than 50% of the trees did not survive.  It remarked that: the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) has not transplanted the trees affected by the Metro 3 project efficiently and that many of them did not show signs of sprouting.
    At the same time, the metro rail body has also delayed geo-tagging the affected trees, as recommended by the committee. It slammed MMRC for not using modern machines to transplant trees. 

    Here are some videos you might like to watch on the topic:
    Did you fall for Government’s compensatory plantation LIE?: https://fb.watch/e2ts3VG8JL/ 
    Transplantation is a hoax: https://fb.watch/e2u5JT9pUI/Planting Saplings does not account for the loss of fully grown trees: https://fb.watch/e2vsA4sMUG/

Myth 7:
Shifting the proposed Metro car shed from Aarey Milk Colony to Kanjurmarg is not viable as it would cost around Rs 10,000 crore (they keep changing the figure)


The car shed for the Metro-6 line(running from Lokhandwala Complex to Vikhroli) intersecting the underground Metro-3 line at SEEPZ, is being built on the same land at Kanjurmarg.  This shows there is no need for laying another 10-km line which is additional cost as per MMRC.
There is enough land for both car sheds as the plot size is nearly 102 acres. The feasibility report and engineering drawings have been made. All that is needed is a 500-meter ramp from Aarey to JVLR costing less than 200 cr.

Myth 8:
Government authorities claim that since the Kanjurmarg land is marshy, it will be added to costs to make the land usable.


When the eastern express Highway was made, the land stopped receiving tide water around 1965. Then, in 2009, a wall was made on the creeklet to prevent tidal waters from entering the land. Because of this, the plot is now dry and rocky. The rocks were found at 2 metres during soil testing. Videos are available to show the same.

Myth 9:
Kanjurmarg land acquisition will take time as the plot is currently in litigation and privately owned.


If the land is under litigation, how did Mr. Fadnavis allot it for Metro 6? The pillars have reached the site which, as per litigation, cannot enter the plot. Union of India went to court claiming ownership and got a stay order. Since when did UoI become a private party?