Celebs join Metro 2 battle, but is it too little, too late?
Residents have already collected 700 signatures; demand meeting with chief minister
Protesting against the elevated Metro corridor, thousands of residents, students, activists and celebrities congregated at various locations between Juhu and Khar on Friday. They reiterated their demand for the Metro 2B line to be sent underground and appealed to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to give them a hearing.
Apart from residents and students, several well-known personalities, too, showed up to support the cause, including Fr Frazer Mascarenhas, former principal of St Xavier's College, actors Raveena Tandon and Moushumi Chatterjee as well as lyricist Javed Akhtar. Akhtar pointed out that that if the Metro was being constructed underground in areas where bureaucrats live then the same should be done for the western suburbs as well.
Ashoke Pandit, Moushmi Chatterjee and Raveena Tandon at the Metro 2 protest in Khar on Friday. Pics/Atul Kamble
"The government says the Metro will be above the ground here as it's less expensive. If cost is the issue then it shouldn't be underground anywhere in the city. If the metro runs underground then it can be extended later which cannot be done if it's elevated," he said.
While the noise pollution would affect the schools and colleges along SV Road, hospitals, too, would suffer. Dr Bhupendra Awasthi, a paediatrician and director of Surya Hospital at Santa Cruz, said an underground metro would mean less trouble for hospitals. "The roads in this part of the city are very narrow in any case and the traffic situation is terrible. On top of that if the metro is elevated then we will have to shut down the hospital as the noise pollution and traffic would be too much for our patients to endure," he said.
Students from various schools including Rose Manor International and were seen holding up banners and informative posters about the ill-effects of constructing the elevated metro line. "We want the metro to be constructed underground as otherwise there will be noise pollution," said Gurpreet Kaur, one of the Std IX students from Rose Manor School.
Kshama Sitwala, a protesting resident, said, "The underground metro will have better connectivity and in an earlier meeting MMRDA experts had told us that taking the metro underground would turn out to be a cheaper option," she said.
Getting more signatures
The protest was led by activists like Anandini Thakoor, Ashoke Pandit and PK Das among others who urged people to sign the petition that will be sent to the prime minister. "We have collected more than 700 signatures and will continue the campaign for a few more days. We have been asking to meet with the CM for almost three years but our requests have fallen on deaf ears," said Thakoor.
She said that if the underground metro was a more expensive, then the government should delay the Shivaji Memorial project, too. "They should use the Rs 3,000 crore for this project instead," she said.
Pandit said, "People are raising their voices about the issue and so are the corporators. But the CM is unwilling to even listen to us. If this attitude remains and if they don't heed to our request of making Metro underground then we will not vote for them and will promote the option of NOTA for the upcoming polls," he said.
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