In a press conference that took place on Thursday evening , the Apna Mumbai Abhiyan a group of NGOs and citizen's groups have opposed the idea of government to set up a car depot for metro line three at Royal Palms and at Aarey Milk colony. The group has suggested that the ideal location for the car depot is Kanjurmarg or Kalina.
In a press release issued to the media, the group said that,"We are deeply concerned about the many attempts being made by the State Government and its various agencies in encroaching upon Aarey for carrying-out various projects, particularly the construction of Metro 3 Car Depot.
We are against any form of construction in Aarey. Aarey is a significant Eco Sensitive Zone and its conservation and protection is of utmost priority for the well being of the city and its environment. Aarey is a contiguous part of Sanjay Gandhi National Park and must remain so." The group has also opposed Government's idea of developing a car depot at Royal Palms.
"We also oppose government’s announcement for building Metro 3 Car Depot in the Royal Palm land as an alternate site, since this too is in the heart of the SGNP - Aarey eco sensitive zone. We therefore strongly oppose the government’s attempt to build Metro 3 Car Depot in Aarey and have suggested a few options to Aarey where Metro 3 Car Depot could be built and we demand that these be seriously considered. It is interesting to note that the government appointed committee for identifying various options have not suggested other sites too. Moreover government information regarding the various sites under consideration have been wrongly presented to the public, thus misguiding them. " stated the press release. The members associated with the Abhiyan also said that Aarey is one of the last remaining open green spaces in Mumbai with one of the lowest open space ratios in the world.
"Its character of a forest, with a count of 500,000 trees, is critical in maintaining the balance between development and environment required in a metropolis like Mumbai. It’s an area well known for its rich biodiversity of flora and fauna and home to protected species like the leopard. It’s an important catchment area for the Mithi river which flows next to it. The 3000 acres of Aarey also serve to increase the water table of adjoining suburbs. Construction in this area would increase chances of flooding not just in the immediate vicinity but further downstream like the airport and Chakala. Aarey also serves to mitigate rising temperatures and helps to absorb the pollution caused by vehicular traffic in the arterial roads surrounding it. The metro 3 will reduce pollution, so will Aarey. Aarey has immense potential as an outdoor recreational and tourist spot. The suburbs of Mumbai are woefully lacking in large public spaces. As the city expands to the north, Aarey is the best place to have a central open, green space." The group also alleged that the government misrepresented facts in the analysis of other options and they also said that other options have been disregarded on the basis of false facts.
The Detailed Project Report (DPR) 2011, of the Metro 3 line from Colaba to SEEPZ proposed four options for the car depot. The area required was 25 Ha Kalina and Aarey were shortlisted. Kalina was found to be more suitable on all parameters (page 7-20 and 7-21 of DPR). But Aarey was finalised on the basis of plot size. The area of these plots was calculated on the basis of online mapping. No surveys were conducted on the ground. Independent mapping reveals that false figures were quoted to justify the choice of Aarey for the depot." Concluded the press release.