After months of protests and debate, it seems the fate of Aarey Milk Colony will be sealed today. Nearly three months after the chief minister first set up an expert panel to review the controversial proposal to axe 2,298 trees and build a Metro yard in Aarey, the special committee is expected to take a final call today.
After citizens began to protest against the Metro car shed being built in Aarey colony, the Metro authorities cordoned off the area with a green screen. The CM instructed officials to hold off from felling trees or carrying out construction work till the committee presents its findings. File pic
An official from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) said, “The committee has prepared the report after taking into consideration all the options for the car depot, as well as the suggestions raised by stake holders, and soon the report will be handed over to the CM.”
Citizens and environmental activists have been up in arms against the Metro Line III project from the get go, more so since the time mid-day broke the story about how the Metro authorities had considerably underplayed Aarey Colony’s rich biodiversity in order to convince a Japanese funding agency that the Metro car depot would have minimal environmental damage there.
Reacting to the mounting pressure, CM Devendra Fadnavis had instated the special committee on March 2 to study the plans for the Metro car depot and find alternative sites for it outside Aarey Colony.
Since then, the panel has held discussions with the stakeholders. Environmentalists had also suggested several alternatives where the yard site can be moved, such as the salt pan land in Kanjurmarg (near the Eastern Express Highway close to Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road), as well as other locations in Colaba, Mumbai port trust land, Kalina and the Mahalaxmi Racecourse.
There have been reports in the media that the government might decide to shift the car shed out of Aarey, and discussions on the same have also been held on social networking sites. However, when this reporter reached out to the CM to confirm this, Fadnavis responded, saying, “I have not received the report from the committee.”
mid-day has been running a sustained campaign on the issue, highlighting the citizens’ objections to the Metro car depot, Here are the earlier stories done by us:
The expert panel
>> MMRDA chief UPS Madan
>> Former BMC chief Sitaram Kunte
>> Principal secretary (Urban Development-1) Nitin Kareer
>> Dr Rakesh Kumar, director, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur
>> Dr Rashmi Patil and Dr Ravi Sinha, Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering, IIT-Bombay
>> Kolkata Metro’s former general manager, G R Madan
>> Delhi Metro director Balvinder Kumar