The arterial road is used by thousands of vehicles during peak hours as it serves as a shortcut allowing motorists to avoid the traffic jam on JVLR. File pic

'Stop traffic inside Aarey!' Experts tell Maharashtra government

By Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Updated: 26 October, 2020 07:41 IST

Experts ask state government to regulate the flow of traffic inside Aarey Milk Colony now that it has been declared a reserve forest

Nature lovers have voiced the need for restricting vehicular movement in Aarey Colony during certain hours now that the state government has declared an 800-acre area as a reserve forest.

The main Aarey Colony road starts from Goregaon near Western Express Highway and goes towards Powai and Marol. The arterial road is used by thousands of vehicles during peak hours as it serves as a shortcut allowing motorists to avoid the traffic jam on Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR). Closing this road for vehicular traffic seems difficult. There is a 45-kilometre long internal road network in Aarey which connects tribal hamlets and cattle farms which wildlife lovers feel should be closed to motorists not from Aarey.

A few years back, former chief executive officer of Aarey, Gajanan Raut, took the decision of closing the internal roads in Aarey to outside vehicles owners. But after Raut was transferred, the roads were opened again.

Aarey Colony is also the Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) of Sanjay Gandhi National Park and activists claim that nowhere else in India is heavy traffic allowed through ESZs.

Wildlife lover Kaushal Dubey, who has been rescuing snakes in the area, said, "We are grateful to the government for declaring Aarey a reserve forest. But now it needs to restrict traffic on the internal roads because I have seen motorists increase the vehicle speed while passing via internal road and this often results in the death of reptiles, leopards. The Forest Department should install posters and banners informing motorists to drive slowly till the time the decision to close the internal road is taken, the authorities should set speed restrictions and action should be taken against those who drive beyond the speed limit."

Stalin D, from NGO Vanashakti and member of Aarey Conservation Group said, "Slowly there has to be phasing out of traffic inside Aarey. The roads should be shut from 9 pm to 6 am and toll should be imposed during the day. The money must be used to improve the ecology of Aarey. More speed breakers will also act as a deterrent."

Environmentalists and activist Zoru Bhathena said, "The ESZ of SGNP was notified in 2016 after many years of protests by citizens. Sadly, it has many loopholes and flaws. But, the very basics of the ESZ — i.e. to regulate traffic within an Eco-Sensitive Environment must be implemented."

Length in km of the arterial road that goes through Aarey

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First Published: 26 October, 2020 07:16 IST

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