A classic delay tactic used by anti-development crusaders, who we refer to as leftists for the lack of a better word, is misinformation. This misinformation brings together a bunch of free, ignorant and motivated individuals to help stop development work of any kind. We saw such means being used in the protests against the Sterlite plant. For the past one month, Mumbai has been the news sensation, and Aarey ‘forests’ have been on the tongue of every left-liberal and armchair-environmentalist.
At first, it is amusing how misinformation spread by a few motivated individuals is taken on face value by woke-millennial’s and ignorant adults as well. I can speak with a sense of conviction about the millennial’s though. Being one myself, I have seen people my age post Instagram stories with the “Save Aarey” tagline, because that’s how we change things. When one counters their illiteracy on the matter, they pull out their trump card and brandish us lesser mortals as “BJP chamchas” and “Sanghis”.
The point of discussion here however, are not these ignoramus kids, rather the adults, who reap the benefits of a capitalist society themselves, yet continue to stall development projects which can be beneficial to the common man. Several entitled Bollywood celebrities have protested the construction on a metro car shed at Aarey in an area ten times smaller than the Film city.
We live in an age of online petitions. After the Aarey colony episode gained prominence, several petitions were seen seeking the support of Indians to help save ‘Aarey’. Arun Vishwanathan has also started a petition to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis. The petition seeks to retrieve parts of Mumbai Film City, officially called the Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagri. TFIPOST has done a series of articles time and again exposing the armchair activists who are out on the streets to ‘Save Aarey’, after taking a drive to the spot in their luxury cars, of course. Mumbai Film City, an area on which the career of all Bollywood stars depends, has in fact usurped 51 acres of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, which is a recognised reserve forest. In 2017, SGNP asked the Film City to return the 51 acres of land which has been usurped.
The Hindustan Times back then reported that according to the documents obtained, the state government had handed over 215 acres of forest land that comprised of two villages Sai (102 acres) and Gundgaon (113 acres) to the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) in 1969 and a government resolution (GR) issued in 1970 confirmed the same. However, the forest department said that when MIDC further handed over the area to Film City, which is managed by a state-run corporation- in 1977, over 245 acres had been transferred. Later, the area of land to be transferred to Film City was decided as 194 acres. This meant that 51 acres needed to be given back to the forest department. To this, Film City officials quite shamelessly stated that they had no illegal forest land under their jurisdiction, and also refused to revert back any land back to SGNP.
The said petition therefore calls for government intervention on the matter. As Film City has out- rightly stated that they will not act on the matter, hoping to have sensible negotiations with them would be a waste of time. If the petition garners the required signatures needed for it to be put forward to Devendra Fadnavis, it can be expected that his government will take corrective steps in the right direction. The Fadnavis government has been one of the most robust when it comes to environment preservation and afforestation. In 2017, the state had set a target of planting 4 crore trees. The target was revised to 13 crore in the year 2018 and further to 33 crore in the ongoing year. This is part of the Harit Maharashtra (Green Maharashtra) drive which had been initiated by the state government in 2016 at the initiative of the Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.
Notably, there has been astute silence on the part of the ever-outraged Bollywood celebrities. From Manoj Bajpaaye to Dia Mirza, Farhan Akhtar to Shraddha Kapoor, Vishal Dadlani to Richa Chaddha, all joined the bandwagon to stall the Metro development work in Mumbai.
Actor Shraddha Kapoor, who earlier joined Mumbai protesters to support their opposition to the decision by BMC Tree Authority to slash 2,700 trees in the Aarey forest to make the metro car shed, expressed her anger on Instagram. She posted a screenshot of a few news articles writing “This is wrong and should not be happening” and “Mumbaikars wake up”.
To put it simple, this is sheer hypocrisy. None of these actors who are crying on a non-issue should have the right to create any kind of impediment in a project that will benefit millions of common Mumbaikars. The presence or absence of Metro in Mumbai makes no difference in the privileged lives of these celebrities. Moreover, they seem to be gripped with the propaganda spread by fake environmentalists that the entire Aarey colony will be wiped out for the Metro car shed.
The armchair activists will not mention the fact that Metro services in the city will help reduce 2.25 lakh ton of Carbon dioxide release. 2700 tress being felled when compared to this figure become a miniscule loss for the environment. What is not being told is that among these trees, 460 will be transplanted and more than 13000 new trees will be planted.
Not one actor from the entire industry has spoken against the illegal occupation of forest land by the Mumbai Film City. Not only have they usurped a forest land, but also caused grave and serious ecological damage to it. These people who selectively pick topics to outrage upon and make news must be exposed. For a person who has no knowledge about the massive environmental drives which have been undertaken by the Fadnavis government, it would be easy for these motivated activists to fool them. However, lies fall apart soon enough. Meanwhile online petitions seek to show elite Bollywood environmentalists the mirror.