Mumbai’s geography has been transformed from being a cluster of islands with vegetated hilly cores and surrounded by low lying tidal marshes or estuarine mudflats, to a contiguous land mass stretching northwards over the last few centuries. This has occurred through a series of planned and unplanned land-filling or reclamation which has changed the natural ecology of the region. The Aarey Colony is a part of Mumbai’s ecologically vital hill complex along with the National Park, where streams and tributaries that feed two of four major rivers — Oshiwara and Mithi — originate. It boasts of an extensive forest cover, natural ecosystems, numerous adivasi settlements and primary occupations.
This map and study of Aarey highlights the impact of the past as well as proposed land use and land cover changes on its terrain, watersheds and ecosystems. The extent and locations of new projects will have serious socio-ecological impacts in Aarey itself, and are expected to displace indigenous settlements, communities and their livelihoods, create downstream impacts, possibly increasing the scale and severity of urban floods. ‘Mapping Aarey: A Study of the Impacts of Land Use / Land Cover Changes on Catchment Areas and Ecosystems’ aims to show that the original area of Aarey has been reduced systematically since it was established in the late 1940s, that newly proposed public and private projects are likely to sever the Colony entirely from the National Park, and that the new projects will disrupt hydrological processes and drainage patterns in the area.