An MMRDA meeting on Saturday discussed building the depot on a 48-hectare land in AMC even while the matter is in court
The Save Aarey initiative’s battle continues. It seems that the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) will go ahead with its plan to construct the car depot for the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro Line Three at Aarey Milk Colony, an eco sensitive zone in Goregaon. At the MMRC board meeting on Saturday, a new plan that involves building the depot on 24 hectares of AMC land was discussed. Sources from the MMRDA said, “The construction of the car depot was discussed at the meeting. Since the decision regarding the construction of the depot in Kanjurmarg has not yet been taken, considering the said land is under litigation, MMRDA doesn’t want the project to suffer. So, a new plan will be prepared for construction at AMC.”
This, despite an expert committee appointed by CM Devendra Fadnavis, advising that the depot come up at Kanjurmarg to avoid the environmental damage to Aarey. It was earlier discussed that a double-deck car depot be constructed on a 20.80 hectare land in AMC since this would require fewer trees to be felled. But since this posed technical challenges, a new plan involving the building of the depot on 24 hactares of land has been prepared. This will require close to 1,000 trees to be cut.
No final decision has been taken yet considering the CM will have the final say. Permissions are not in place for construction in AMC. In January this year, The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and National Green Tribunals Pune bench declared the vast green expanse of Aarey Milk Colony as an eco-sensitive zone. The matter is still in court. To add to this, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest's draft notification classifies AMC under the Eco Sensitive Zone of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Environmental activist from the NGO Vanashakti and Save Aarey Conservation group, said, "It is illegal for MMRDA to go ahead in subjudice matters where they are among the main respondents. Are they above the law? Their arrogance and insensitivity towards Aarey is deplorable."