Ahead of civic polls, Devendra Fadnavis claims he was unaware that Metro-3 project in Aarey was going to cause massive destruction to green cover
The CM said he believed that 368 trees would be chopped at Aarey
Even as Mumbai gears up for poll week, CM Devendra Fadnavis seems to be unaware of what’s happening to the city’s last remaining green lung - at least that’s what a group of environmentalists inferred when they met up with him yesterday to discuss the shifting of the Metro-3 project to Kalina or Kanjumarg instead of Aarey.
Fadnavis claimed shock when he was informed that 2,400 trees were being axed in Aarey to build the car shed for the Metro project. “He thought only 368 trees were going to be affected,” said environmentalist Stalin Dayanand, who attended the meeting. “The CM is misled,” he added.
AAP’s Priti Menon, who was also present at the meeting, said, “The CM wasn’t even aware that alternative land was available at the Kanjurmarg dumping ground.”
Fadnavis’ disbelief comes barely a year after he had acknowledged that thousands of trees were likely to be chopped for the project. “It is true that the original car shed design for Aarey involved hacking of 2,300 trees. But, we have revised the design and the new plan would see shedding of 300 to 500 trees,” Fadnavis had said then. While the CM promised to re-look into the issue of the number of trees that would be affected, he refused to commit on the shift the project to either Kalina or Kanjurmarg.
According to the environmentalists, the southern end of the Kalina Campus, which is spread across 29 hectares, will be more than sufficient for the Metro car shed. “When we suggested the Kanjurmarg area, he said it’s a marsh land. But, the land there is ready for use,” added Dayanand.
The activists said that they had requested the CM to provide a written confirmation about considering their demand, but Fadnavis politely refused. He has, however, asked MMRDA chief Ashwini Bhide to meet the environmentalists again.
Activist and filmmaker Ram Subramanium said, “We will only vote for the party that promises to save the trees in Aarey.” Despite repeated attempts, the MMRDA chief was unavailable for comment.
In his concluding rally yesterday, Raj Thackeray said, “The government can set up the carshed at BPT, but they want to sell off prime land to developers and hence, are exploiting the forest at Aarey.”