Save Aarey: Battle between Mumbai Metro, green warriors intensifies

Development body issues press release claiming it has have received ‘go-ahead’ from the green tribunal, NGO debunks it, files affidavit before the tribunal

Looks like the controversy surrounding the construction of the Metro line III (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) carshed in Aarey Milk Colony is only getting murkier.

While a statement issued by the MMRC yesterday claims there were no restraining orders on the construction of the carshed in Aarey, NGO Vanashakti has debunked this claim.

The statement issued by MMRC Managing Director Ashwini Bhide reads: “National Green Tribunal (NGT) during the hearing in Pune on Wednesday declared that restriction on the new project is limited to 100 metres only from the boundary of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and there are no restraining orders against the Metro car depot. This is a positive development for Metro-3 project. NGT has further asked MMRC to present a compilation of areas consumed in depots of Delhi, Kolkata and other Metros. MMRC will provide all necessary details asked by NGT before the next hearing scheduled on January 19.”

Countering this statement, a member from Save Aarey Conservation Group said, “MMRC is spreading the news that the NGT has cleared the way for Metro-3. We would like to clarify that no such order has been passed and the matter is being heard. The next hearing is on January 19.”

Moreover, Stalin Dayanand of Vanashakti filed an affidavit with the NGT demanding dismissal of the statement issued by the MMRC. Vanashakti has approached NGT demanding that Aarey Milk Colony be declared as an Eco Sensitive Area (ESA).

The affidavit filed by Dayanand (copy with mid-day) states: “I deny that the Aarey colony site is the most suitable and viable site for a car shed. I say that the Intervener Corporation has erred in understanding the significance of ecology of the area as can be seen from the sweeping and unsubstantiated statements like ‘repairable loss of trees’ in the area. It is of utmost significance to reiterate that the issue is not only about trees but the existence of forestland in the catchment area of Mithi River which has now become a vital habitat and an important leopard range as evidenced through its frequent sightings. I further deny that the relevance of Sanjay Gandhi National Park is irrelevant as the Aarey land falls under the ESZ of Sanjay Gandhi National Park and as stated before, boasts of flora and fauna (including wild leopards) that are similar to the National Park. I repeat that the issue before this Hon’ble Tribunal is not whether the Metro Corridor 3 is eco-friendly or not but whether locating the car shed of Metro Corridor 3 inside the Ecologically Sensitive Zone of Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Aarey is environmentally desirable or not.

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