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Aarey Milk Colony, spread over 1,259 hectares of land, is an extension of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. In 1949, the land we know as Aarey was given to the Dairy Development Board of Maharashtra to shift the cattle sheds from the city to Aarey. Since then this area has been known as Aarey Milk Colony. Aarey has 27 tribal hamlets; in terms of flora and fauna, it has leopards and numerous species of birds, animals, insects, butterflies, snakes, herbs, shrubs and trees (which number more than 4 Lakh 80 thousand).

In November 2014 , morning walkers, cyclists and other regular visitors to Aarey Milk Colony found notices put up, announcing that 2298 trees in Aarey would be felled for construction of the carshed for Metro3. Citizens came together to protest against this mass felling of trees. Thus was born the Save Aarey Movement.

In December 2014 angry citizens for the first time gathered in Aarey Picnic Point area to protest against this unnecessary destruction of the city's ecology. 1200 + citizens came together again in February 2015, creating a human chain along Marine Drive. Post this event, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra announced appointment of an Expert Committee to explore other options for location of the Metro3 carshed .

The Expert Committee had 6 members; four Bureaucrats and two environmental experts from IIT and NEERI. Both the environmentalists put a dissenting note in the Committee's report, holding that Aarey is an ecologically sensitive area and rich in biodiversity. The proposed carshed location is the floodplain of the Mithi River, and construction in this area can lead to flooding in Andheri. Hence the carshed location should be shifted out of Aarey, they said .The other options for the carshed location suggested by the expert members were Kanjurmarg and Backbay in Colaba.

The Detailed Project Report prepared in 2011 for the Metro 3 Line also mentions three other options (along with the option of 33 ha land in Aarey) for the Metro 3 Carshed location: the ground in Bandra Kurla Complex, 26 Ha of land in Kalina, the Mahalaxmi Race Course. Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation ( MMRCL) always claims that the 33 ha land area in Aarey is the only suitable location for the Metro 3 Carshed.

In 2015 the NGO, Vanashakti, along with citizens, filed a petition in National Green Tribunal (NGT) praying that Aarey be declared a forest and an Eco-Sensitive Zone. NGT on 19th August 2015, ordered status quo in Aarey pending final decision on the case. MMRCL, in August 2017 started dumping debris in the Metro 3 Carshed area in Aarey, along with excavation and mud filling activities in the area. This was in contempt of Court orders and was highlighted at the NGT. On 14th May 2018, NGT again ordered against any dumping of debris, land reclamation and Tree Felling in Aarey pending final decision in the case. But MMRCL continues to violate court orders. They have cordoned off more area in Aarey on the opposite side of the carshed area and have started land reclamation. What initially started as destruction of 33 ha of forest land is now leading to destruction of a much bigger area. Citizens lodged complaints in Aarey Police Station against these violations of court orders. MMRCL has also evicted Adivasis from Prajapur Pada in Aarey to SRA Buildings. This is in violation with Tribal Rights. Adivasis have filed a petition in Mumbai High Court.

On 20th September 2018 Judges from NGT's Principal Bench decided that this matter of declaring Aarey a Forests does not come under NGT's jurisdiction and NGT directed the petitioners to withdraw application and approach the right Authorities. This has happened after 3 and 1/2 years long proceedings in National Green Tribunal.

Through an RTI in 2017, Vanashakti found a letter written by the Divisional Manager of Sanjay Gandhi National Park( SGNP). This letter indicates that Aarey Milk Colony was of a much larger area earlier, and that 2076 ha of land from Aarey Milk Colony was Transferred to SGNP in 1969. But the forest department claims that they do not have any land records related to Aarey Milk Colony.

The forest department, in 2015, had submitted a draft proposal to the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) to declare Aarey Milk Colony as an Eco Sensitive Zone. MMRCL moved an application with the MOEF and got 165 ha of land (1.65 sq km) from Aarey denotified from the Eco Sensitive Zone. The MOEF denotified an area of 1.65 sq km from the ESZ in December 2016. This decision has been challenged by Vanashakti in NGT through a different petition.

Already, a large part of Aarey Forest has been lost to different projects and construction activities. Citizens fear that with the entry of the Metro 3 carshed, better described as a railway service centre, the rest of this forest, spreading over 1259 ha, will be lost to construction activities for ever.

Mumbai City is already sinking because of the destruction of its water bodies, wetlands and mangroves. Loss of Forest area and destruction of the floodplain of the Mithi River in Aarey will lead to further destruction of the city and flooding in more new areas in Mumbai. Lakes , supplying drinking water to Mumbai are also located in Forest Areas. Vihar lake on the border of SGNP and Aarey.

The air quality of Mumbai will be seriously hit if 4000 full grown trees are removed from its last remaining green space,the Aarey forests. .

A Movement that started with the news of felling of 2298 trees has brought out more shocking details. MMRCL floated a tender document for felling of 3384 trees in Aarey Milk Colony in 2017. And number of trees that are in line for sacrifice is still increasing. Tribals have lost their homes and livelihood. Floodplain of Mithi River has been damaged and this city will finally lose 1.65 sq km of forest areas to construction activities if this Carshed is not shifted out of Aarey. Facts finding team of Citizens have also found letters that speak about Government granting 3 FSI on 33 ha (82.5 acres) of Aarey land. A design layout prepared by MMRCL for the Carshed area also has marked an area on 33 ha land for realestate prooject.

Citizens of Mumbai needs to decide what is more important for them. A peaceful and happy life in a place requires, Fresh Air, Good supply of Drinking water , accessible open spaces and flood free roads .

In a Costal city like Mumbai, when the entire world is suffering from the consequences of Global Warming a place like Aarey becomes extremely crucial for survival of the city.

Mumbai, 14th March, 2017: Today, I received an email that was sent on behalf of Ekta World Pvt Ltd that worried me for a few minutes -- yeah, but only for a few minutes before I clearly saw that this crooked builder was bluffing and intimidating once again.

(Background: Ekta World has a troubled relationship with truthfulness and factuality. A couple of days back, the builder tried to scare freelance journalist Raju Vernekar that a matter was "subjudice" and that he would file a defamation suit against him also. That tactic backfired; instead of preventing Vernekar from publishing his story, it actually triggered him to publish this story in Afternoon Despatch & Courier! More about this incident in my blog here.)

Today, while at work, I received the following email: 

"From: Avinash Vidwans <avinashvidwans@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 4:36 PM
Subject: Hearing of Application for interim and ad-interim relief in Special Civil Suit No. 36 of 2017 in the Court of C.J.(S.D.) at Vasai.
To: vernekar.raj@gmail.com, member@linkedin.com, krish.kkphoto@gmail.com, vineetmalik1@yahoo.co.in
Cc: deepti.n@ektaworld.com

Respected Sir / Madam,
Please find herewith attached copy of an Application for interim and ad-interim injunction to be moved against you Mr. Vineet Malik and Krishna Raj Rao in the Court of C.J.(S.D.) at Vasai on 15th day of March, 2017 at 11.00 am or so soon thereafter, on behalf of my client M/S Ekta Parksville Homes Pvt.Ltd.
Please take notice that, you may remain present if you so desire at the above mentioned time and date and venue.
Thanking you,
Yours faithfully
Avinash Vidwans, Advocate."

Attached to this email was this word file. The fun contents of this file are dissected and analyzed in my blog here. (For the sake of continuity, I am forced to separate these, but please don't miss reading it, because the bluffs contained in that document are really hilarious!)

Anyway, after my first reaction subsided, I wrote this email in reply:

From: Krishnaraj Rao <krish.kkphoto@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 6:41 PM
Subject: Re: Hearing of Application for interim and ad-interim relief in Special Civil Suit No. 36 of 2017 in the Court of C.J.(S.D.) at Vasai.
To: Avinash Vidwans <avinashvidwans@gmail.com>
Cc: Raju Vernekar <vernekar.raj@gmail.com>, member@linkedin.com, Vineet Malik <vineetmalik1@yahoo.co.in>, Deepti Nair <deepti.n@ektaworld.com>, Gopal Mehta <advocategcm@gmail.com>, "Adv. Abdul Rasheed Qureshi" <i.rasheed1357@gmail.com>, Ashok Mohnani <ashok.m@ektaworld.com>

Dear Mr Avinash Vidwans,

1) I have been given no reason to believe that you are an advocate, or that you have been duly appointed by Ekta Builders to represent them. You have not even sent a copy of your vakalatnama signed by Mr Ashok Mohnani. Kindly furnish adequate proofs immediately.

2) Further, I have been given no reason to believe that the word file that you have sent to me is the authentic and true copy of the "Special Civil Suit" that you claim is being filed at Vasai Court. Hence, it cannot be considered to be Notice served to me. Kindly serve notice immediately in a way that will be legally acceptable and verifiable, i.e. hard copy or scanned copy of stamped and registered "Special Civil Suit".

3) Please note further that you have deliberately and malafidely served this notice without giving adequate notice of 48 hours to enable us to respond. You have sent me this unsigned word file with barely 16 hours of notice, the previous evening. Hence, your foregoing email cannot be considered to be proper service of notice under any circumstances.

4) Please note further that Vasai Court is in no way the proper jurisdiction for filing of your case. Just because you have a project at Virar does not mean that you can file at Vasai. You also have a project at Nashik; that does not give the Nashik court proper jurisdiction over your case. As your client's registered office is at Bandra, the court with proper jurisdiction will also within Mumbai jurisdiction. Hence, for want of proper jurisdiction, your court injunction, if filed, will be without proper jurisdiction, and will give me cause to seek proper reliefs against you for abuse of the judicial process.

5) Moreover, as there is currently no court injunction of any nature against my writings, please note that I will be publishing two stories about your double-dealings and fraudulent dealings with your customers before 3 am tomorrow morning. Since they are based solidly on documentary proofs that are in public domain, and are in public interest, there is no need for me to seek rebuttal from your client.

I wish your clients good luck in their attempts to restrain us from exposing their cheating and fraud. And when the proper occasion arises, I look forward to seeing your clients in court. Please be forewarned, I will spare no efforts to expose your clients' fraudulent dealings, and I shall widely report the outcome of each and every court proceeding in future. That is not a threat, but a solemn promise.

For the record: I am acting on my own behalf as a freelance journalist. Mr Vineet Malik and other clients of Ekta World are my sources of information. I have not received a paisa of remuneration from these persons, nor do I intend to at any time in the future.

Please feel free to produce this email as proof before any forum, judicial or otherwise.

Best Wishes,
Krishnaraj Rao

-------------------

After writing this email, I decided to put into public domain all that I had to say about the dealings of Ekta World before the next morning (Wednesday, 15th March), by when the Civil Judge may be induced to give an arbitrary order muzzling me.

But then, my activist colleague Sulaiman Bhimani checked the causelist and found that there is no hearing scheduled tomorrow (i.e. 15th March, 2017). As per the below causelist, the next hearing date is 18th April 2017, and the case status is "Awaiting Summons". We are not needed to attend the hearingtomorrow, because there is no hearing!

So, Ekta World is bluffing as usual. The date given in the lawyer's email is a lie. The question is: Why this lie? Are they thinking that we will panic, scramble to engage a lawyer, work overnight to draft a reply, and turn up at Vasai court at 11 am tomorrow, only to find with disappointment that there is no hearing? Or is Ekta World's top honcho Ashok Mohnani hatching plans to have us assaulted or killed on the way to the court? Or, has he laid a trap to fix us by framing us in a false case of some sort? Vasai is a notorious area, being the home-turf of well-known criminal gangs.

As always, watch this space for further developments. Dekhte rahiye iss dharavahik ki UGLY kadee!

ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Krishnaraj Rao
9821588114
krish.kkphoto@gmail.com

PS: And in case you are wondering what I wrote about Ekta World that has them running to Civil Court, read these blog posts:

 POSTED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Sulaiman Bhimani
9323642081

Horizon Green (Borivali East) has invalid OC and Inadequate Drainage built without authorization

Mumbai, 26th December, 2016: Mumbai Police recently filed FIR against K Raheja's Palm Grove Beach Hotels Pvt Ltd.Reason? Violation of Town Planning Act by unauthorized construction of a drainage line in November-December 2015.Many months earlier, Palm Grove misled MCGM into giving Drainage Completion Certificate and  Occupation Certificate(OC) for their new building Horizon Green without drainage. To make up the lacuna, the developer belatedly built a drainage line going uphill. That's right, uphill!
The Deputy Municipal Commissioner's remarked on 5th January, 2016, "Validity of issue of occupation certificate dated on 18.4.2015 is doubtful".  If any flat-owners take possession and come to stay in their flats, they are in for a rude shock.When they start having baths and flushing toilets in sufficient numbers, their sewage will overflow.
See level difference in two blue circles in this drainage plan
Near the building, the drainage is 102.926 metres above mean sea level. Further down the line, the level is 105.862 metres – three metres higher, i.e. up the hill. The explanation given by K Raheja's CEO, M D Chande, is that "adequate slope is available between the last chamber in the building and the manhole on Municipal road to which the line is connected is confirmed by emptying water tanker in the last chamber in the presence of municipal staff." However, Mr Chande steadfastly refuses to back his claims with any figures i.e. metres above sea level, degree of slope, etc. Home buyers should remember that a slope of one foot per ten feet of length is needed for sewage sludge to flow; otherwise silting, stagnationand overflow are bound to happen.
Mr Chande alleges that as their neighbours deliberately blocked the old drainage line, he was forced to build the new uphill drainage.
Mr Chande claims that MCGM's Assistant Engineer - Maintenance gave NOC dated 20th November 2015 for the uphill drainage line without requiring the builder to submit any plans or diagrams.
"Why seek NOC from Maintenance department? Why not Building Proposal department?" we asked Mr Chande. His reply was that after giving OC, Building Proposal has no further jurisdiction. So he was forced to approach Maintenance Department. But  MCGM disregarded the Maintenance Department NOC and issued instructions to prosecute Palm Grove Beach Hotels for "unauthorized lying of sewer pipeline and drainage work". Read MCGM's Designated Officer's sanctionto prosecute.
DMC's remarks
MCGM's Deputy Municipal Commissioner wrote an office memo in January 2016, titled "Full Occupation Certificate issued... without completing all necessary works in the building". The DMC wrote: "It is reported that Building Proposal Department have given full Occupation Certificate to Building No. 6 on 18.4.2015... It is seen that now developer has started the work of laying drainage line. Designated Officer R/Central Ward had issued stop work notice on 9.12.2015... This clearly shows that before issue of occupation certificate, the drainage work was not completed." See the screenshot below.
The DMC's memo can be read at: http://bit.ly/KRaheja2
Catching small fish & setting the big ones free

The Assistant Police Inspector's statement prior to FIR mentions the mukadam Ramesh Kishan More, "Manager" Mr Chande and supervisor Virendra Dube. Read the statement: http://bit.ly/KRaheja4
As always, even while filing an FIR, the authorities catch unimportant minions and let the bosses go free. So, who were the persons named in the FIR? Not the directors of Palm Grove Beach Hotels and note even theproject's architect. At first, FIR was registered against Mr Chande and Mr Virendra Dube, a site supervisor working on contract basis. Here's the screenshot.

Later, the FIR was further diluted by removal of Mr Chande's name with white ink, and its replacement with Mr Dube's name, evidently because they represented to MCGM that Mr Chande, CEO, is "not concerned in this matter". So Mr Dube's name is mentioned twice in the same sentence. See the screenshot below:
So the blame for this multi-crore rupee fraud is being pinned only on a site supervisor who has zero discretionary powers and only follows orders. One is reminded of Justice S J Kathawalla's recent reprimand to EOW in a case concerning a builder... someone drags Palm Grove before Justice Kathawalla!
ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Krishnaraj Rao
9821588114
krish.kkphoto@gmail.com
Read K Raheja CEO's detailed rebuttal to this press release.
POSTED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Sulaiman Bhimani
9323642081

The latest rabbit from the same old hat. That of discriminatory policies by college managements against interests of socially or economically backwards students and then disproportionate and unjust action against students who protest against it.

Press Release by Richa Singh, President, Allahabad University Students Union

Attempt to dissolve Allahabad University Student Union, after student protest erupted against compulsory online application for admission

  • Student protest erupted against compulsory online application form for admission
  • Student demanded for offline option, along with online
  • VC rusticated President, Vice-President and General Secretary of the union and then withdrew the order in an hour
  • Attempt to slap serious criminal charges against president Richa Singh by the VC
  • Richa Singh decided to intensify the struggle against compulsory online application and against VC’s attempt to implicate her under false charges

30th April, 2016, Allahabad. On Saturday large scale student protest erupted in Allahabad University against compulsory online application form for those seeking admission in post graduate courses. Students demanded option for offline along with online as most of the students come from rural background. President, Richa Singh said, “When most of the central universities like BHU, AMU, JNU, Hyderabad University and others have both the options then why not in University of Allahabad. It is more than needed in Allahabad University because it is located in a state which has 78% of rural population. Thus, making online application compulsory is going to prevent the entry of many, coming from rural background and from marginalized community.”

When students went with their demand to VC, he not only refused to meet with the elected office bearers of the student union but also locked himself in his office. Against that, for more than two hours, students organized dharna in front of VC office but in vain.

In a most shocking act, in the evening university authorities sent a press release, rusticating the President, Richa and other office bearers for organizing protest without informing the students. However, within an hour, press release was withdrawn and instead of that high powered committee is constituted to take disciplinary action against protesting student leaders. Student leaders have termed the act as an attempt to dissolve student union for the purpose of curtailing the student voice and movement. VC has also lodged criminal complaint against Richa Singh in police station. Richa said, “It is an attempt to implicate her under false charges and is in continuity with the previous acts. However, she is not going to be intimidated.” In the past also VC made attempt to expel Richa Singh but could not after the issue was raised in the Parliament. VC has also banned all kinds of political activities and programme inside the university campus.

Against the dictatorial acts of VC and to demand offline option, student leaders have taken the firm resolve to intensify the struggle in the coming days. They have decided to approach Members of Parliament of all political parties to take a categorical stand on making online application compulsory in a Central University, located in a state with 78% rural population. They have also decided to take the issue to the common people in Allahabad and neighbouring district, so that wider public opinion could be formed against the policy which in no uncertain terms is going to affect the prospects of students coming from rural background and from marginalized community.

Interesting is to note that till now 92% applicants have opted for offline mode for applying under graduate courses where both the options are available.

Originally shared by Anisha George on Facebook

3

At 3am on the night of April 7, 2016, restaurant and bar Mumbai Darbar was still running, in violation of the law, which states that restaurants and bars must shut by midnight. Police Inspector Shubada Chavan, attached to NM Joshi Marg police station noticed this and decided to book it for running beyond permissible timings. Her subordinate Sandeep Shirke along with three friends was drinking in the bar at that time and abused her verbally in public.

Hoping to avoid an unnecessary scene showing a policeman in bad light, Inspector Shubada ignored his misbehavior returned to the police station to complete the booking procedure. An inebriated Sandeep Shirke followed her back to the police station and continued to hurl abuse and insult her in front of the police station staff who tried and failed to reason with him.

He even offered to pay her the fine money himself to drop action against the Hotel. When she refused, he lost his temper and started hurling furniture around and insulting her and creating a nuisance in the public station to the point his colleagues decided to book him for obstructing a police officer from carrying out her duty. At this point he fled from the police station.

In further irony, when journalist Dharmesh Thakkar, who broke this story on Twitter tweeted about it, the official Mumbai Police handle requested him to file a complaint on a link they provided. Let us understand this - Mumbai Police needs citizens to file complaints when their police officers are harassed, publicly insulted and prevented from working? Is this a JOKE?

While it is admirable that Police Inspector Shubada Chavan's colleagues did eventually decide to take action against the inebriated and misbehaving cop, what is worrisome is that she had to face this from someone who is subordinate to her. We have, in the past seen many instances of police attitudes towards women being derogatory. We have also seen many instances of women police being misbehaved with by mobs or individuals.

It is concerning when a police officer on a night shift can be undermined and humiliated for carrying out her duty. Mumbai Police seems reluctant to speak on the matter while assuring that an ACP has looked into it and has recommended action against the errant officer.

We do hope that Mumbai Police also has a problem with their staff patronizing establishments in violation of the law instead of taking action against them - in addition to actions for his behavior against Inspector Chavan and other police staff as well as preventing her from carrying out her duty.