Mumbai: NGT dismisses citizens group's application supporting metro car shed inside Aarey Colony

The group has been allotted 15 minutes to state its stand in the next hearing; apart from the application, the hearing also discussed the rising incidents of forest fires inside the colony

In what can be termed as a serious blow to the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation’s (MMRC) plans to construct a depot for the Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ Metro line III inside the Aarey Milk Colony, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) yesterday dismissed an intervention application filed by a citizens group supporting it.

The proposed site for the Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ Metro III car depot inside Aarey Milk Colony. File pic
The proposed site for the Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ Metro III car depot inside Aarey Milk Colony. File pic

A Mumbai-based group named Mumbai Underground had approached NGT to file an intervention application, stating that the car depot should come up in Aarey Milk Colony. “Our intervention application has been dismissed by the NGT. But we have been allotted 15 minutes to state our stand in the next hearing, and we intend to do that, said Michael Periera, a member.

In August this year, while hearing a plea filed by NGO Vanashakti and a few others, seeking the declaration of Aarey Colony as a No Development Zone (NDZ), the NGT had directed the BMC not to allow any construction in the colony.

Forest fires discussed
The incidents of forest fires inside the colony — that have risen over the past year — were also discussed in the NGT hearing. A person who was present at the hearing said, “The court has taken serious note about the forest fire in Aarey Colony. It has said that the forest fire must be immediately put out, and the trees should be protected.”

On an average, two to three forest fire incidents are reported from the colony in a week. Looking at the area, it becomes difficult to find who is behind them. Last year, one incident had taken place near the metro car depot site, after which the police had registered an FIR against unknown people.

'Locals starting fires'
The Save Aarey community and the conservation group have been continuously raising the issue. “The incidents of forest fires have once again started taking place in Aarey Milk Colony.

Some local people are starting these fires deliberately, and this is not only causing air pollution but is also negatively impacting Aarey’s biodiversity. The authorities should start taking action against those responsible for this,” said Manish Gadia from the Save Aarey Group.

The environmentalists and the groups who have approached the NGT for protesting against the Metro car depot would now be collecting evidence regarding the forest fires and will produce their findings before the NGT.

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