Green tribunal's Aarey construction ban: State pegs all hope on Kanjurmarg for Metro car depot construction

Before the Green Tribunal’s complete ban, the state was thinking of coming up with a double-decked depot at Aarey Colony near the present site, but now it will shift its efforts to build the structure at Kanjurmarg

The order of the National Green Tribunal stating that no construction should be allowed in Aarey Milk Colony (AMC) and that the BMC should not give any NOC (no-objection certificate) to anyone for construction, has left the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) in a quandary, as the option of constructing a car depot in Aarey is now completely closed.

The Metro-III planned to use 74 acres of Aarey land for a car shed. This would have entailed felling of more than 2,000 trees. But with the Green Tribunal order, no construction can take place on Aarey land. File pic
The Metro-III planned to use 74 acres of Aarey land for a car shed. This would have entailed felling of more than 2,000 trees. But with the Green Tribunal order, no construction can take place on Aarey land. File pic

Now the only option left to the government is to consider building the depot at Kanjurmarg. The option of having a car depot at Kanjurmarg was also suggested by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which was one of the entities which had prepared the Mumbai Metro master plan.

The CM’s expert committee, taking into consideration the issues and obstacles that the government might have to face while getting the Kanjurmarg land, had suggested a modified layout of a full service double-decked depot at Aarey Colony — as suggested by the DMRC — near the present site.

But with the recent NGT order, any construction at AMC seems to be next to impossible. The expert committee report also says of the Kanjurmarg plot: “This is a plot of open land that has been identified further east of the alignment near the junction of JVLR and Eastern Express Highway.

At and in the vicinity of this site, the Committee identified two options: The site adjoining JVLR as indicated by the Citizen’s Group and Additional Open Land adjoining Eastern Express Highway and closer to Bhandup.”

Requesting anonymity, a senior government officer told mid-day, “The expert committee while suggesting the Metro car depot be shifted to Kanjurmarg from Aarey, had suggested that in case the car depot does not come up at Kanjurmarg, then it should be constructed at AMC as a double-decked structure. But the recent order of the NGT makes this impossible.”

After the recent NGT order, sources from the state said the government will now focus on the Kanjurmarg land. “The authorities will now focus on getting issues related to the Kanjurmarg land sorted out as early as possible so that there is no delay in the implementation of the Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ Metro Line 3,” added the official.

A balancing act
Merits and Demerits of Kanjurmarg plot as mentioned in the expert committee report submitted to the government:

Merits
>> Can be integrated with the proposed Jogeshwari – Kanjurmarg line presently under planning.
>> There is relatively less tree cover there.
>> It would be an ideal interchange for the future Line 6 also planned in the same area.
>> It will provide good connectivity to areas between Kanjurmarg, Bhandup and further north towards Thane.
>> All of the operational requirements of Line 3 can be accommodated and it is not in a congested urban area.

Demerits
>> The land is under complex litigation and ownership is disputed by several parties.
>> There is also a status quo order of the Bombay High Court on this land.
>> Early possession of the land for the project appears very difficult — resulting in further adverse economic and environmental impacts.
>> To build a depot at this site the existing Line 3 will have to be extended by about 7.5 km.
>> Estimated addition to the cost of construction will be approximately Rs 1,700 crore in the case of an elevated extension.
>> In case of a service connection with the proposed Jogeshwari-Kanjurmarg line, use of this other line to carry coaches of Line-3 may pose operational consequences.

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