Aarey Milk Colony

Aarey Colony falls within the eco sensitive zone of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP)[2] and is an urban, unclassed and degraded forest. It is classified as mixed moist deciduous type forest.[3] It acts as a buffer between SGNP and the city, being one of the few green spaces (spread over 2000 acres) left in Mumbai.[4]

Aarey Milk Colony (India)

Aarey Colony
Buffaloes grazing in a dairy farm at Aarey Colony
Buffaloes grazing in a dairy farm at Aarey Colony
Aarey Milk Colony (India) is located in Mumbai
Aarey Milk Colony (India)
Aarey Milk Colony (India)
Location of Aarey Colony in Mumbai
Coordinates: 19°08′55″N 72°52′54″E / 19.148493°N 72.881756°E / 19.148493; 72.881756Coordinates: 19°08′55″N 72°52′54″E / 19.148493°N 72.881756°E / 19.148493; 72.881756
Country India
DistrictMumbai Suburban
LocalityGoregaon (East)
Founded byGovt. Of India
 • Total16 km2 (6 sq mi)
 • OfficialMarathi
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
400 065[1]
WebsiteAarey Dairy

The Aarey Milk Colony (also Aarey Colony, also Aarey Forest) is a neighbourhood situated in Goregaon (East), a suburb of the city of Mumbai, India. It was established in 1949 to revolutionise the processing and marketing of dairy products in the city.


Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, former PM of India, planting a sapling. Photograph taken during the inauguration of Aarey Colony on 4 March 1951.

Aarey Milk Colony at Goregaon (East) was established in 1949 and in 1951 the dairy at Aarey was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.[citation needed]

The colony was the vision of Mr Dara Khurody, a pioneer of dairy sector who shared the '1963 Ramon Magsaysay Award' with Dr Verghese Kurien for revolutionizing the processing and marketing of milk in Mumbai.[5]

Lake at Chhota Kashmir

Aarey Milk Colony includes 12 villages: Sai, Gundgav, Film City, Royal Palms, Dindoshi (Eksar Pahad), Aarey, Pahadi Goregaon, Vyraval, Kondivita, Maroshi (Marol), Parjapur, and Paspoli. In 1977, around 200 ha (490 acres) of land was carved out from Aarey village to establish Film City.[6] The colony is spread over 16 km2 (6 sq mi) and is located off the Western Express Highway (WEH). Among the popular attractions in Aarey are Chhota Kashmir with a lake and a picnic spot.[7]

Aarey, a green belt zone (foreground) in contrast with the high-rises of Goregaon suburb (background)

The colony also has gardens, a nursery, lakes, an observation pavilion, picnic facilities, and milk plants. 16,000 cattle are reared on 1,287 ha (3,180 acres) of land, and 32 cattle farms.[8] The management of all these is outsourced to a private firm every two years.[9] Film City is frequently used for movie shoots.

There is a road within the colony built by the Maharashtra Public Works Department that connects the WEH to Powai. The Aarey Colony administration earlier collected toll from the users of the road.[10] In 2014, the MCGM took over the road and ended the collection of the toll.[11] It is also the location of the proposed carshed and depot for Line 3 of the Mumbai Metro.

A plan was mooted in 2010 to extend the existing Byculla Zoo in South Mumbai by building a zoo with no enclosures on land that would be acquired from both the colony as well as the adjacent Sanjay Gandhi National Park.[12]

Flora & FaunaEdit

Aarey Forest has an array of wild life and several species of insects, butterflies and birds. It has at least 86 species of trees[13] and 22 species of birds. A recent report submitted to the state highlights the rich biodiversity inside Aarey[14]. There are about 290 species of wild life in Aarey Forest including 5 such species of animals which feature in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These vulnerable animals include leopards, Rusty spotted cat, Sambar deer, Alexandrine Parakeet and Red-wattled Lapwing.[15]

Leopards of AareyEdit

Aarey is known to have potential to show human-leopard co-existence in an urban setting. There are 4 adult females named Adarsh Nagar (after the locality she used to frequent), Bindu, Chandani and Luna. Leopards monitoring is being done with camera traps since 2015. The Forest Department has joined hands with citizen groups to observe and learn about leopard behaviour.[16] An RTI has revealed that from 2016-2018, seven leopards have been rescued.[17] While Aarey has been infamous for leopard attacks, research by Centre for Wildlife Studies revealed that leopards are actually afraid of humans and highlighted that poor garbage disposal and newly released leopards in a new environment have caused attacks. Vidya Athreya, an ecologist, pointed out that leopards being around was never a big issue among residents of these areas, it is only a recent demand. She also pointed out that this is an urban dwellers' issue as people in rural areas experience less attacks and no death has occurred in Ahemadnagar, for instance, despite having a higher leopard count.[18]

Discovery of new speciesEdit

Aarey has been an unexplored and understudied area. Environmental researchers found two new jumping spiders in 2017 - Langelurillus onyx and Langelurillus lacteus.[19][20]

Tribals of Aarey ForestEdit

There are around 27 tribal hamlets (known as padas in Marathi) and other smaller hamlets in Aarey. Some of tribes that the original inhabitants belong to are Katkaris, Mahadev Kolis, Mallar Kolis and Warlis[21] The tribals in the area farm and cultivate various fruits and vegetables[22] among other which are then sold in markets for a livelihood. They have suffered on account of basic amenities not provided by the government and also the rapid degradation of the forest and drive to displace tribals has impacted their sustainable lifestyle and means of livelihood[23].

Tribal Padas in Aarey[24]
No. Name of Padas
1 Keltipada
2 Damupada
3 Chafyachapada
4 Naushachapada
5 Futkyachapada
6 Nimbarpada
7 Prajapurpada
8 Vaanichapada
9 Bhurikhanpada
10 Khambachapada
11 Khadakpada
12 Gaondevipada
13 Habalpada
14 Devipada
15 Saibangodapada
16 Maroshipada
17 Charandevpada
18 Jivachapada
19 Morachapada
20 Ultanpada
21 Navapada
22 Nangarmundipada
23 Navapada 2
24 Dongripada
25 Prajapurpada - Modern Bakery
26 Jitonichapada
27 Kambatpada

Ownership patternEdit

Grasses grown for use as animal feed

The Aarey Milk Colony occupies a total area of 3,166 acres (1,281 ha) of land, out of which the area available for cultivation of quality fodder and grasses is 400 acres (160 ha) only. Land is also leased out to various organizations and institutions of the Maharashtra State Government and Central Government of India. Allocation of land is as follows:

  1. Total land given to the Central Government of India Institutions (Central Poultry Farm, Modern Bakery, NDDB, RBI)—229.92
  2. Total land given to the Maharashtra State Government Institutions (Mumbai Veterinary College, SRP, MHADA, MCGB, Film City, Fishery)—729.12
  3. Area under road and buildings—460.00
  4. Area uncultivated and waste land under nullahs, lake, farm bunds, farm roads, river channels—1,020.20
  5. Area under lawns and gardens, para grass, and orchards— 537.00
  6. Land and the social forestry land, etc.—183.00
  7. Total—3,160.00

The main objective to erect such colony:

  1. Shifting of cattle/buffalo from the city limits,
  2. Supply of better quality milk to the citizens of Mumbai at comparatively cheaper cost, and
  3. Maintenance of these animals on scientific and modern animal husbandry practices.

In the colony, 30 stables are constructed having a capacity for housing 500–550 animals in each stables. Each stable has been provided with an ancillary building such as hay gawdown, chaff-cutting sheds, calving lines, and residential accommodation for the cattle owner and their staff. The private cattle owner who are maintaining their herds in the Mumbai city prior to 1949 were shifted and allotted licences to maintain their buffaloes in the colony stables. Presently, Aarey Milk Colony has got the capacity of accommodating 16,079 cattle in 30 units. The licence holders are required to pay the necessary license fee, occupation charges, water and electricity charges and other ancillary services rendered to them.

In addition to the activities of maintaining the large herds of milch animals in Aarey Colony, certain activities like running primary school for the benefit of children of residents of the Aarey Colony and running 24 bed hospital are also undertaken by Aarey authorities.

Animal Husbandry Scheme, Cow Unit Scheme

Under this scheme, nearly 1,700 indigenous and cross-breed cows are maintained at four Dairy Farms Units. The indigenous herd is utilized for producing large numbers of cross-breed heifers which are supplied to the farmers of dairy co-operatives in Maharashtra state to augment the milk production and the generation of cross-breed herd will be utilized to study the effect of cross-breeding up to 7.5% and 6.5% exotic blood level. This study will be useful to advise the farmers in the Maharashtra state regarding the breeding policies that can be practiced by them for breeding their cross-bred progeny at the village level. Maintenance of cross-breed herds will be economic while the indigenous herds will be showing some amount of losses, but it will be a good study for future planning.

In order to increase the revenue and decrease the losses incurred, the following activities were initiated from 2001–02.

  1. The toll tax collection for the vehicles using the Aarey Milk Colony main road from Powai, Malad-Borivali, Dindoshi, Goregaon, Andheri, Marol-Maroshi by calling the public tenders.
  2. The Aarey tank measuring 3–4 acres is utilized for boating purpose on fixed rent basis.
  3. The unutilized godowns which were earlier used for storing the fodder and concentrated animal feed are rented to various parties by calling the public tenders.
  4. Various stall open spoken were allotted for vendors' stalls, restaurants, general stores on rental basis.
  5. The agricultural produce from the various trees. E.g. Coconuts, mangoes, cashews, and palmyra fruit, etc. were given as contractual basis.
  6. The various resources and by-products. E.g. Water, fodder plot, and cattle are being sold on contractual basis.

The various activities are carried out by the staff of around 640 personnel under the administrative control of Chief Executive Officer, Aarey Colony.


The roads within Aarey are lonely and late night travel must be avoided

n 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.[25] The thick vegetation hides wild animals like leopards, who usually prey upon stray dogs and feral pigs.[26][27] In recent years, increased human encroachment into leopard territory and shortage of prey density in the neighbouring SGNP have turned some leopards into man-eaters.[28][29] On 22 December 2016, the headless body of a 22-year-old man, Brandon Gonsalves, was found near Unit 2 of Aarey Colony.[30] The Mumbai Police suspected that it was a case of human sacrifice performed by some tantrik babas.[31] Apart from criminal activities like murders, road robberies, and occult practices, there are apocryphal tales of ghosts trying to hitch rides.[32]

In popular cultureEdit

The picturesque beauty of Aarey has made it popular with filmmakers

A large portion of Bimal Roy's Madhumati (1958) was shot in the area, to match the earlier footage shot in Nainital.[33]


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  3. ^ Shinde, Rajendra (3 December 2017). "Aarey Milk Colony, Mumbai as Forest Territory-A Status Report". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
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  14. ^ "NGO: Evidence of 290 wild species inside Aarey Milk Colony". mid-day. 12 September 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  15. ^ "NGO: Evidence of 290 wild species inside Aarey Milk Colony". mid-day. 12 September 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  16. ^ "The Leopards of Aarey". Mongabay Environmental News. 16 November 2018. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
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  20. ^ Meet the new Species of Spider found in Mumbai, retrieved 21 October 2019
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  32. ^ Awatramani, Tarini (21 April 2010). "Ghosts galore: Mumbai's most haunted locations". Cable News Network. CNN Travel. Mumbai. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  33. ^ "It's 50 years since Madhumati captured the hearts and minds of a nation. Sunday MiD DAY recounts the making of a classic". Mid Day. Mumbai: Jagran Prakashan Limited. Mid-Day Infomedia. 19 January 2008. Retrieved 27 August 2017.

External linksEdit