Activists are finding it hard to believe that government agencies are disregarding a direct order from the National Green Tribunal, which banned all construction in Aarey Colony last August. Less than a week after the Metro authorities started building a fence in Aarey, this time it is the Public Works Department (PWD) that has fallen foul of the NGT order.
The PWD, which started building a community centre for tribals in Aarey on Tuesday, claimed the contractor was ignorant of the NGT’s ban. However, the construction work came to a stop the same day, and the next morning, the Aarey CEO office demolished the structure.
A nature lover sent mid-day a picture of the construction work going on in Aarey on Tuesday. The structure was demolished the very next day by the Aarey CEO’s office
On Tuesday, locals passing through the route towards Royal Palms were dismayed to see construction work going there, and were shocked to learn that the PWD was responsible for it. A nature lover sent mid-day a picture of a building being erected right by the road. He told this reporter, “When I saw the ongoing construction work, I enquired about it and the locals told me that it was PWD doing the work and that they had all the permissions. This was shocking; how can they do any construction when already there is a status quo order against any construction in Aarey?”
The source also sent the picture to the Save Aarey Conservation group, which then complained to the Aarey CEO’s office. Stalin D, one of the members of the group and director of the NGO Vanashakti, said, “We have been told that they were constructing a community centre, but that is a violation of the NGT orders. We have informed the Aarey CEO office and the Forest Department about this, and our lawyer will also inform the NGT about during the next hearing.”
PWD Section Engineer Santosh Murudkar said, “The work of constructing a community centre for tribal was going on, and we had permission from the state Tribal Development Department and the suburban collector.
We stopped the work on Tuesday itself, after the Aarey CEO’s office explained that the NGT placed a restriction on construction. The contractor was not aware about the NGT order. The Aarey CEO office has demolished the structure and we won’t do any further construction there till the ban is lifted.”
An official from the security department of the Aarey CEO office said, “It was a PWD-appointed contractor who was constructing a community centre there. On Wednesday, we demolished the under-construction structure.”
After mid-day reported about MMRC building a fence around its plot in Aarey Colony, the Aarey CEO office also instructed the Metro authority to cease the work as it is in violation of the NGT order.