The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) faces an uphill battle to convince the citizens for one of its most ambitious projects, Colaba-Bandra-Seepz (Metro Line-III) corridor, with an increasing number of environmentalists and transport experts coming out against it.
Even though officials from MMRDA claim that they will successfully construct the 33.5-km fully underground line, environmentalists are planning to oppose it, as they are unhappy with the planning authority’s intent to construct a depot at Aarey colony, Goregaon, which falls under the buffer zone in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) At a public hearing to assess the environmental and social impact of the Rs 21,752 crore (at 2011 levels) line, which was held yesterday, MMRDA invited the concerned citizens to raise their suggestions and objections.
Environmentalist Rishi Agarwal, who was present at the hearing, spoke to MiD DAY later. He said, “We have clearly told the planning authority that we will oppose the proposed Metro car shed at Aarey colony. The main reason behind the opposition is because the Aarey milk colony remains the only open natural space left in the city. This area has continuously been facing pressure on its periphery in the past two decades.”
He further said, “We are continuously eating into the buffer area of the SGNP, and a decision needs to be taken to freeze all development in this area. No amount of man-made recreation can make up for the beauty and benefits of preserved natural areas.” Transport expert Jitendra Gupta said, “Firstly, we will have to study in what zone is the MMRDA planning to set up the car shed, as the Aarey colony area falls under buffer zone. We are not against development but before constructing the line, MMRDA should do a proper survey and see to it that development is not done at the cost of environment.”
Despite the mounting opposition, MMRDA shows no signs of wavering in its commitment to the project. It made clear that the fully underground corridor will not affect the innumerable underground utilities, as the trains will run more than 20 metres below the surface. Meanwhile, the public hearing, which was attended by around 100 people, saw the most participation from Andheri (East) residents, who are likely to be affected by the project. MMRDA has promised these inhabitants that it would ensure a fair resettlement and rehabilitation.
“All likely project affected families will be rehabilitated only after a proper survey is conducted, appropriate communication is established in the best possible manner and following the resettlement policy laid down by the government”, said SVR Srinivas, managing director, MMRC.