Aarey Forest Activists who have been trying for long to save the forest from being cut down for Mumbai Metro Construction, accumulated in front of Amitabh Bacchan’s house after he uploaded a tweet diplomatically favouring the metro construction.
The language of his tweet suggests that it was an endorsement tweet and he is favouring government’s act of cutting down a large area covered with forest for the construction of Metro. The Aarey forest area is a 1300 Hectare forest land situated in Aarey Colony of northern suburbs of Mumbai. The forest houses 27 tribal villages, 9 leopards and around 5 lakh trees in total.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation passed an ordering 2015, directing to cut down 2703 trees in the spread over 30 hectares of forest area. This is because the Mumbai Metro Project encompasses the forest land and has planned to construct a Mumbai Metro III car shed in the area.
However, this decision was not very well taken by the Environmental Activists. Hence, they started a protest and went on a strike to oppose BMC & Mumbai Metro. In the first week of September, around 1500 people including Bollywood Actress Shraddha Kapoor came to participate in the protest. They joined hands to form a human chain and protect the forest from being destroyed.
After the protest, BMC was not able to take any action looking at the mass protest. However, on 16th September 2019, Celebrity Actor Amitabh Bacchan made a tweet from his official twitter handle, diplomatically supporting the construction of the metro. His tweet read:
In the tweet, he not only mentioned the metro being fast convenient & efficient but also chose to mention that planting trees is good. How can someone not understand the agenda behind this?
Akhil Chitre, Leader from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) came up with a comment upon this.
“In 2010, Amitabh Bachchan was opposing the metro just because his privacy was getting hampered. But within a few years, after the change of government, his views changed,” he said.
In a conversation with ANI, he further said “I do not know what the deal between him & the current government is. His views might have changed because of the changed metro route. It is sad to see that when people across Mumbai are protesting against the cutting of trees in Aarey forest, Amitabh Bacchan is tweeting in favour of metro construction.”
His tweet started to receive criticism soon:
However, he is not the only one who has made an endorsement with the government.
Another Bollywood celebrity, Akshaya Kumar also made a tweet on 18th September, sharing his experience in Metro, saying that he had to take a metro to reach a place 20 minutes far, which would otherwise cost him 2 hours through roads full of traffic.
After the incident, many fans also turned protestors & reached the Amitabh Bacchan’s residential premises to show their dismay. A group of environmental activists held a protest outside the residence of the actor alleging that the government has befriended some public influencers to retract attention of people from the main issue of Aarey forest being cut down and promoting their Mumbai Metro agenda at the same time.
Further, Amitabh’s tweet asked people to plant trees in their gardens, to which people responded with agitation, reminding him that it is Mumbai and not everyone has the luxury to plant trees. His statement chooses to overlook the ignorance of the government of cutting down 2700 trees and that the Aarey forest is a place to plant more trees like his garden.
Activists showed their concern about the forest stating “a garden cannot compensate the loss of 2700 mature trees of a forest. Whereas the metro car shed will serve the same purpose at any other place as well as Bachchan Ji has talked about in his Advertisement cum Tweet favouring BMC & Mumbai Metro.”
The protestors also asked Amitabh Bacchan to come and talk to them and they will explain to them the whole situation. “As a respected and influential citizen, we expect him to understand the problem and help us with getting a solution that is a win-win for all. We are not completely blaming Mr Bachchan either, as it is very possible that he has been misled about the metro 3 car shed and may not know all the facts. We would love to speak to him and convey to him the truth about it,” they added.
However, the peaceful protest of the people was not very well taken by the Mumbai Police and they started mistreating the protestors and pushing them into police vans. People from different walks of life in the city flayed policy for dealing with peaceful protesters like that.
Pooja Bhatt Also tweeted on the matter.