Aarey case: Metro shed to be relocated to Kanjurmarg

Metro car shed at Aarey to be relocated to Kanjurmarg: CM Uddhav Thackeray

There will be no infringement on rights of tribals in the Aarey forest, the CM said

A tractor carries away the fallen trees for building a construction site of metro car parking shed at Aarey Colony, Mumbai, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. Credit: PTI

Nearly a year after over 2,000 trees were chopped in the darkness of night, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government has shifted the Metro carshed project from the Aarey Milk Colony to Kanjur Marg.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday announced the scrapping of Aarey metro car shed and said the project will now come up at Kanjurmarg in Mumbai.

The Aarey forest in the periphery of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) is part of the green lung of Mumbai.

A year ago, the BJP-Shiv Sena government was in power in Maharashtra and it was one of the trigger points of soaring relations between the two saffron allies.

In a webcast, Thackeray said the project will be shifted to the government land in Kanjurmarg and no cost will be incurred for the purpose. "The land will be available at zero rate," he said.

He said the building which has come up in Aarey forest will be utilised for some other public purpose. "About Rs 100 crore expenditure was incurred for the purpose and it won't go waste," he said.

Thackeray said the building which has come up in Aarey forest will be utilised for some other public purpose. "About Rs 100 crore expenditure was incurred for the purpose and it won't go waste," he said.

Thackeray said the government had earlier declared 600 acre of Aarey land as forest but now it has been revised to 800 acre. There will be no infringement on rights of tribals in the Aarey forest, he added.

"Biodiversity in Aarey needs to be to conserved and protected. Nowhere is there an 800-acre jungle in an urban set up. Mumbai has a natural forest cover," he said.

Around 800 acres of land in Aarey were declared forest and linked to SGNP, the only national park in the world to be located inside a metropolitan city. The SGNP-Aarey landscape is home for over 45 leopards, making it the richest leopard density in the world.

Over 2,141 trees were hacked on October 4-5, 2019 midnight and the then Chief Minister and now Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis came in the line of fire of ally Shiv Sena and then opposition parties Sharad Pawar-led NCP, Congress, AAP and several NGOs and voluntary organizations. The matter had even reached the Supreme Court.

Former chief minister and Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis recently said the state governments plan to relocate Metro 3 car shed from Aarey was a reflection of wrong policy.

The 2019 Vidhan Sabha elections delivered a fractured mandate and Shiv Sena came to power in alliance with NCP and Congress and BJP was pushed to the Opposition benches.

One of the first decisions that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray took was to withdraw cases against the protestors and announce a committee to study alternate sites for the Mumbai Metro Line 3.

Maharashtra government had appointed Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to prepare a feasibility study on Metro 3 (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) sharing its car shed with Line 6 (Vikhroli-Lokhandwala).

On Sunday in a webcast to the people of the state, Thackeray announced that the Metro car shed has been shifted out of Aarey and would now come up in Kanjur Marg.

“Two Metro corridors -- Colaba-Bandra-Seepz (Metro Line 3) and Swami Samarth Nagar-Vikhroli (Metro Line 6) will be integrated. I am happy to announce that Aarey car shed is now being moved to Kanjurmarg. The plot in Kanjurmarg is government land and it will be provided at zero cost for Metro car shed (Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd),” Thackeray said.

The money used to construct the building -- Rs 100 crore-- will not go waste either as the building will be used for a public purpose.

Immediately after Thackeray’s address, his son and state’s Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray tweeted: “Aarey saved!”.

The BJP, however, reacted sharply to the CM’s announcement. “Aarey car shed shifting to Kanjur Marg will cost additional  Rs 5,000 crore and a 5-year project delay and 8-km additional daily for every train to park. There would be daily additional operation cost and where is the land? Marshy land? Or the disputed land for which Bombay High Court had asked the government to deposit  Rs 2,000 crore?” senior BJP leader and former MP Kirit Somaiya asked.

The Aarey issue has been in news for the last several years – and many celebrities and film stars too have joined the campaigners to protect this green patch.

Over the last year, Thackeray, his son Aaditya, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat , Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde, Forest Minister Sanjay Rathod and Dairy Development Minister Sunil Kedar had held series of meetings – and now the issue has reached some sort of finality.

 

(With inputs from PTI)