Save Aarey: Metro III no longer needed, feel environmentalists

With Rail Budget announcing the Churchgate-Virar elevated corridor, transport experts and environmentalists hope threat to Aarey will be avoided

The Rail Budget, announced by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday has left Mumbai's environmentalists with some room for argument against the proposed Metro III.

In his budget, Prabhu announced the construction of an elevated corridor expected to run from Churchgate to Virar. This, transport experts and environmentalists feel, negates the need for the Metro III line, also expected to ply along a similar route, which in turn ensures that there is no move to construct a Metro III car shed at Aarey Milk Colony as had been proposed.

The proposed third line of the Mumbai Metro, helmed by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), would run from Colaba to Seepz via Bandra underground. A new line will run from Andheri East to Dahisar via the Western Express Highway. In 2014, MMRC and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (which is constructing the Andheri-Dahisar line) had proposed construction of a car shed at the green belt. At that time, various environmentalist groups had come together to launch the Save Aarey campaign. In 2015, construction of the car shed was halted after the chief minister intervened, following public agitation.

An activist who did not wished to be named, said, “While the Metro will provide a quality journey, its fare structure will also be high. Dropping the metro line will also ensure that the negative environmental impact on Aarey is avoided.”

Speaking to sunday mid-day on the day the Railway Budget was presented, MMRC Managing Director Ashwini Bhide, said, “While the elevated rail corridor will help solve commuting problems on the suburban railway line, the metro corridor “serves a different purpose”. “Both are right in their own perspective,” he added.

Environmentalist Stalin D, who heads NGO Vanashakti, said, “With the Railways once again announcing the elevated corridor, the Metro III line project has lost its relevance. People will prefer travelling by suburban railway since it is affordable. Metro III should be scrapped.”

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