Alternative locations for car depot not properly surveyed: Environmentalist tells National Green Tribunal

An environmentalist opposing the car depot of Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro line three at Aarey Milk Colony on Tuesday filed a reply in National Green Tribunal to the intervention application that was filed by Mmbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC).

NGO Vanashakti in the reply filed with the NGT has stated that "few newspaper reports on the public outrage against carrying out developmental activities such as the Metro Car Shed and the allied activities within Aarey Colony". The copy o the newspaper reports were also submitted to the NGT.

It has also been stated in the affidavit that the survey of alternative locations for car depot has not been properly done.

"The "detailed survey of alternative locations" as MMRC alleges to have undertaken is gravely defective as it lacked the most important environmental concerns. This is the very same reason that due to public outrage, the State Government constituted a committee through a Government Resolution (GR) dated 11th March, 2015, consisting of environmental experts, namely Dr Rakesh Kumar and Mr Shyam Asolekar, who are part of this Six Member Committee. The experts are of the opinion that no elaborate site visits or research was invested in other sites that were available and the environmental experts would not select Aarey as the site for the Metro Car Depot owing to its ecological significance. Hereto annexed and marked as ANNEXURE R-2 is the said opinion by the two above named experts."

The affidavit also points out that Aarey Milk Colony is a No-Development Zone or Green Zone. The point number 7 states, "The proposed area for the Metro Car shed in Aarey is specifically declared as a ‘Green Zone’ in the current Development Plan. The Intervener Corporation is completely silent on the existing Development Plan which shows Aarey as a ‘No Development Zone’ or Green Zone’ and therefore, have surreptitiously continued to suppress the very important facts in an attempt to mislead this Hon’ble Tribunal. Attached hereto and marked as ANNEXURE R-3 is the relevant extract/map that declares the said plot in Aarey as ‘Green Zone’.”

The applicants have also stated in their application that the car shed is needed at the end of the project. “The car shed is something that would be needed at the end of laying of the lines which would take at least four years if and only if all the other issues and project execution problems do not arise.”

The applicant has also replied in the affidavit about the leopards. They said, "With respect to Para No. 24, I say and submit that it is shocking to go through the statements of the Intervener Corporation that the leopards are not coming out of the SGNP boundaries. It is pertinent to mention that animals neither comprehend nor care much for boundaries; their territories lie despite these boundaries imposed on them. It shocks the conscience of the Applicants on the Intervener Corporation’s deduction on Leopards inhabiting the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. It is seen that the Intervener Corporation have completely disregarded the fact that being contiguous to SGNP, a numbers of Leopards currently inhabit Aarey itself as resident Leopards. To sanction the felling of more than 2,000 trees is to trample over the living space of these majestic animals over and above the loss of fullygrown trees. Contrary to the claim of the Intervener Corporation, the guidelines dated 09.02.2011 issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (Respondent No. 3) for demarcation of Ecologically Sensitive Zones around National Parks and Sanctuaries use buffer zone and ESZ in an analogical manner and therefore, is a subject matter under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.”

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