Save Aarey: Scrap Metro car shed and Line 3, demands Aaditya Thackeray
Aally Shiv Sena joined protests against the BJP-led government’s plan to build a Metro car shed at the Aarey Milk Colony. Aaditya Thackeray, the chief of the Sena’s youth wing, batted for the forest’s biodiversity yesterday and even spoke against the proposed Metro Line 3, claiming it would displace locals from Girgaum.
Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, flanked by MLAs Sunil Prabhu and Ravindra Waikar, with activists from Save Aarey Milk Colony, other NGOs and local tribals in Aarey Milk Colony yesterday. Pics/Suresh KK
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), a body led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, plans to cut 2,298 trees from Aarey Milk Colony to make way for a Metro car shed. Thackeray joined hands yesterday with activists from the Save Aarey Milk Colony group, an informal organisation of environmentalists, activists and citizens, and called for the government to scrap the car shed plan.
Thackeray said his party would oppose any development in Aarey Colony and that the government should find an alternate site for the car shed
He also said Shiv Sena would strongly oppose the Metro Line 3 (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz), saying it would displace people who stay in chawls in Girgaum. The car depot is being proposed for this upcoming line, which will be completely underground.
Thackeray, with several of Sena’s party workers, NGOs, and tribals met yesterday in the colony. “The (Metro) car depot will have a negative impact on the biodiversity of Aarey Milk Colony and, so, we will oppose the same. There are alternatives for the car depot that environment and citizen groups have suggested to the MMRC.
The government should think about them. Metro Line 3 will also displace Mumbaikars staying in chawls at Girgaum, and the project will also eat up a portion of Cross Maidan. Already there are hardly any open spaces left in Mumbai.
Hence, I feel that the Metro Line 3 should be scrapped. When a financially viable coastal road project is going to come up, I don’t understand the need for the Metro Line 3,” Thackeray said.
Local tribals, members from the Save Aarey Milk Colony group and other NGOs interacted with the youth leader, who assured them that his party wouldn’t allow “a single tree to be cut” and that his party members who are part of the BMC’s Tree Authority would continue opposing the plans to chop trees for the Metro project.
When questioned why his party, an ally both in the state and the BMC with the BJP, was opposing its partner, he said, “If we feel something is wrong, then we have the right to oppose it and we shall do so.
Our family has been pro-environment and wildlife and this cause is close to my heart. I will soon meet the chief minister along with members of Save Aarey Milk Colony and request him to stop ongoing work.
Protecting biodiversity at Aarey Milk Colony itself is more important, as this is one of the last surviving green lungs of Mumbai. Nowhere in the world is there such a dense and beautiful forest with wildlife within city limits. Its conservation is vital.”
Thackeray invoked memories of visiting the colony and Sanjay Gandhi National Park and said he had been visiting both since childhood. “It is wrong on the part of MMRC to say there is no wildlife in Aarey Milk Colony. We will oppose any kind of development in Aarey,” he stated.
Shiv Sena’s local MLA and Minister of State for Housing Ravindra Waikar and former mayor and Dindoshi MLA Sunil Prabhu also promised that they would extend their full support for the cause. Thackeray also said people should leave political differences aside and cross party lines to come forward and join the cause to save the forest.
Activists corner MMRC MD
Ashwini Bhide (in pic), managing director, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), planted 15-20 saplings at the car depot site in the colony yesterday.
The event was hush-hush and no media had been invited for fear of negative publicity. However, activists from the Save Aarey Milk Colony group got wind of it and landed up at the site.
They alleged that MMRC had already destroyed the grassland ecosystem by levelling the ground. They then told her not to cut trees from the colony and shift the car depot elsewhere. Bhide, when contacted, refused to comment on the incident.