Tribune News Service
Mumbai, September 18
Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan's tweet appreciating Mumbai’s metro has drawn him into the Aarey metro row, where protests are growing against the government’s proposal to cut down 2,700 trees to make way for the ambitious project.
Several students held placards that read, among other things, “A few gardens do not make a forest”, as they stood outside Bachchan’s residence protesting his tweets.
The protests however were peacefully, and although there was police deployment in the area, protesters were not evicted.
The tweet that brought on the latest controversy was one in which Bachchan both appreciated the metro rail and also advised people to grow more trees. "Friend of mine had a medical emergency, decided to take metro instead of his car .. came back very impressed .. said was faster, convenient and most efficient .. Solution for Pollution ...Grow more trees .. I did in my garden .. have you," Bachchan had tweeted on Tuesday.
Bureaucrat Ashiwin Bhide, who heads the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation, posted a tweet thanking Bachchan for his words and reiterating his commitment to completing all metro projects, including the controversial Metro Line 3—the one that proposes a metro shed at Aarey colony that will require trees to be cut down.
"Thank u @SrBachchan ji fr depicting d importance of #Metro so succinctly. Thank you for ur support. We'r committed 2 commission entire #MumbaiMetro network incldng @MumbaiMetro3 @ d earliest (sic)," she tweeted in response.
The actor also drew flak on social media. "What exactly are you implying here Sir? You’re advocating for the Metro and justifying the Shed and telling us to plant trees? More than half of Bombay lives in flats, want us to plant trees in there? Unless you’re giving us all one Jalsa each, don’t sound so ridiculous pls," said one message on Twitter.
Activist Zoru Bhathena, who has moved the Bombay High Court against the metro project, offered to take the actor on a tour of Aarey. She said in a tweet: "Sir, let us take you for a visit to Aarey. It will change your perception, Sir. When will you join us, Sir. Aarey is waiting".
The Bombay High Court is currently hearing a petition against cutting down trees in Aarey colony, a thickly forested area that adjoins the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
The proposal to cut down Aarey’s trees has drawn protests from citizenry and environmentalists. Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray has opposed the project, and has also warned the state government that the proposal would meet the same fate as that of the Nanar refinery in Ratnagiri district—a proposed project of Rs 3 lakh crore that had to be abandoned after the Sena joined locals to protest against it.
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