While the rumour mills suggest that the CM’s expert panel favours building Metro III’s car depot in Aarey Colony, Devendra Fadnavis told mid-day that several other options were also on the cards, and a decision was yet to be taken
It was citizens’ opposition to 2,298 trees being axed in Aarey Colony that had prompted the Chief Minister to set up an expert panel to review the Metro III project and come up with alternative sites for its controversial car depot.
It was the threat of 2,298 trees being axed at the proposed Metro yard site in Aarey Colony that prompted citizens to protest in unison, in turn pushing the CM to ask for a detailed report on alternatives
Despite this, word on the grapevine is that the committee favours building in Aarey itself. Ask the CM himself, however, and it seems there is hope yet. Just this past Saturday, mid-day reported that the expert panel was already late in releasing the final report and was making last-minute attempts to negotiate with environmentalists to get them on board with the Aarey plan (‘What if we cut fewer trees? Govt bargains with Save Aarey group’, July 11).
Fadnavis confirmed to mid-day that he was yet to receive the committee’s report, but said that several suggestions had been put forward for alternative locations for the Metro car depot. “No decision has been taken on the car depot yet,” he told this paper on Sunday.
“There are various alternatives for the car depot that have come forward. There was some problem in one of the options, but I personally sorted it out. I think, at present, there are good alternatives that are available,” the CM added.
While the CM has clearly hinted that the government is considering alternative locations for the yard site, the question arises, which option seems the most likely? Sources in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) said the only other viable location apart from Aarey is at the salt pan lands at Kanjurmarg, adjacent to the Eastern Express Highway.
However, a major roadblock could be opposition from local residents there. Anticipating just this, environmentalists now plan to visit locals at Kanjurmarg and hold a discussion with them, to explain how building the Metro car depot there will help the city.
Not only will this protect over 2,000 trees, it will also save the rich biodiversity in Aarey that is threatened by the Metro project. Besides this, if a car depot were to be built at Kanjurmarg, it would also come into service for the future Seepz-Kanjurmarg Metro line, which is currently on the drawing board.