The Maharashtra government has planned to declare 600 acres of land in Aarey Milk Colony near the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai as a reserve forest. Plans have also been made to conserve it.
The government's decision to constitute the land as a reserve forest comes under Section 4 of the Indian Forest Act.
"Approximately 600 acres of open land being declared as forest while all rights of Adivasi communities will stand protected," Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray said. "Rehabilitation of slums within the area would be expedited. This would be phase one, for which the Forest Department will move a proposal."
He further said that the authorities after this will undertake a survey for additional open or forest land in Aarey in the second phase of the project.
"This would help the state protect the flora and fauna existent in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Aarey," he said.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has claimed that across the world, this would be the first instance of an "extensive forest blossoming" within the limits of a metropolis. This decision was taken during a meeting chaired by the CM himself, Scroll.in reported.
Among those who attended the meeting were Aaditya Thackeray, Forest Minister Sanjay Rathod, Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde and Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar.
A statement released by the Maharashtra government said that construction of "all types, roads, slums, adivasi pockets and government facilities" will be excluded from the first phase of the initiative.