Mumbai Metro reassures cricket community, says won't gobble up Oval and Azad Maidan

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) on Monday dismissed apprehensions that the upcoming 33.5-km Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ route will gobble up cricket grounds in the city.

MMRC managing director Ashwini Bhide assured that only a few cricket pitches at the famed Oval Maidan and the historic Azad Maidan would be relocated temporarily for carrying out Metro railway construction activities.

"A few cricket pitches at Azad Maidan will be shifted and we are working with the sports department to ensure that the majority of cricketing activities continues undisturbed," Bhide said.

Her response came after a campaign by Mumbai's cricket loving community that expressed apprehension that the game's activities would be severely hampered and both the grounds would be usurped by the Metro rail corridor.

"The Oval Maidan is spread over nine hectares, and the Metro-3 (corridor) will require temporarily around 0.39 hectares, or four percent at the northern end for a period of 3-4 years only. Thereafter, it will be restored and returned. Since the plot required is very small, there is no likelihood of causing any hurdles in cricket activities there," she said.

Similarly, the Azad Maidan measures around 20 hectares of which 3.27 hectares -- or 16 percent -- will be used for Metro work.

This would entail relocating some pitches temporarily, and subsequently, the MMRC will permanently retain only 1,000 square metres at Azad Maidan.

On the entire route, the Metro-3 will need around 40 hectares of land, of which 11.8 hectares would be on permanent basis.

Once ready, it will ferry around 1.4 million commuters daily, servicing prime areas of Nariman Point, Cuffe Parade, Fort, Worli, Parel, Bandra Kurla Complex, SEEPZ-MIDC, linking 12 educational complexes, 11 major hospitals, 11 employment clusters, and the domestic and international airports.

It will also reduce nearly half a million vehicle trips and entail saving of 250,000 litres of fuel daily, she added.

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