Aarey saved: Metro carshed moved to Kanjurmarg

Updated: 12 October, 2020 07:09 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

MVA government scraps controversial construction in Mumbai's green oasis, says new site will not add to cost of carshed

The site for the new Metro carshed in Kanjurmarg. Pic/Sameer Markande
The site for the new Metro carshed in Kanjurmarg. Pic/Sameer Markande

After much policy deliberations, the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government has decided to shift a controversial and under-construction Metro 3 carshed from Aarey to Kanjurmarg. Thackeray said on Sunday that the state will save money by using government land available in the north-eastern suburb. "We will use government land, hence there will be no extra cost for acquiring land," Thackeray said in a webcast on Sunday.

"The decision to shift the car shed to Kanjurmarg has been taken. We will use government land, hence there will be no extra cost for acquiring land," Thackeray said in a webcast. His party, activists and citizen groups had opposed the construction at Aarey ahead of the last year’s Assembly polls.

The Sena had assured the relocation of the depot and conserving the biodiversity of the forest land if it came to power. The CM said the police cases filed against the people who protested the overnight felling of the Aarey trees are being withdrawn.

Trees being cut in Aarey Colony at the site of the proposed Metro carshed in Aarey in October last year
Trees being cut in Aarey Colony at the site of the proposed Metro carshed in Aarey in October last year

According to the CM, the two Metro corridors — Colaba-Bandra-Seepz (Metro 3) and Swami Samarth Nagar-Vikhroli (Metro 6) — will be integrated under the
revised plan.

"I must thank Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat," he said, sharing credit with the ruling partners. "Aaditya, who is environment and climate change minister, has worked hard to make this possible," he added.

The CM did not mention the extra expense that will go into building the additional length of tracks to reach the Kanjurmarg site and the cost escalation the altered design is expected to cause. The work on the Aarey site was stalled some nine months ago. He, however, said the expenditure on the Aarey site was about R100 crore and the buildings that have come up there would be put to the best use for the public.

Kanjurmarg has been one of the alternatives suggested by environmentalists and activists who have opposed the Aarey project where the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) has already spent some hundred crores on levelling the alleged forest land and building some expensive structures. Experts in MMRC and the erstwhile BJP-Shiv Sena government have argued that the Aarey site was perfect for the car depot.

The CM said saving the existing forest was his priority and not making tall claims [like the previous government] of planting crores of saplings. "Some people tell lies. I don’t. We said 600 acres will be added to the national park, but a revised estimate says there will be 200 acres more. So, we will have 800 acres of reserved forest inside the city. Cities are made inside forests, but we have made a forest possible inside the city. This will benefit future generations," he said.

The Opposition said the decision was misleading and imposed higher costs on taxpayers. BJP legislator Atul Bhatkhalkar said the studies commissioned by the current and the previous governments did not recommend the Kanjurmarg site because the land available there is disputed and the site itself is not feasible for Metro 3 project’s smooth operations.

No. of months since work on Aarey site has been stalled

Devendra Fadnavis says

Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis reacted to the developments and said, "This decision will satisfy the ego of some people and increase the cost of the project by at least R4,000 crore. This cost escalation is assessed by the committee appointed by this government.

"The Kanjurmarg site was earlier considered but it was under litigation and then stayed by the high court. Some private individuals claimed ownership rights. The stay was requested to be withdrawn, but the HC wanted the amount to be deposited if the claims got settled in future. This amount was around Rs 2,400 crore in 2015. What is the status of that case today? And, if someone moves the SC, who will be responsible for the delay? "Moreover, as the Kanjurmarg site is marshy land, it will require at least two years to stabilise it.

In addition, all the previous tenders will have to be scrapped and a new process will have to be followed. No DPR or feasibility report has been made for this site. This means that the Metro project, which would have been in the service of Mumbaikars just next year, has now been postponed indefinitely."

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First Published: 12 October, 2020 07:01 IST

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