Mumbai: Battle lines drawn at Aarey as construction begins on Metro car depot
Officials have tightened security at Aarey Colony, as construction work begins for the Metro car depot — something green activists deem illegal
The battle for Aarey Colony reached a boiling point after locals and activists issued an ultimatum to the police to stop the construction of the Metro III car depot by Saturday. After more than 100 people gathered outside the Aarey police station, the police tightened security at the Metro site to prevent a law-and-order crisis.
On Wednesday, locals and activists gathered outside Aarey police station to protest the construction work at the Metro III car depot site
On Wednesday, the protestors picketed Aarey police station, demanding that an FIR be filed against the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) for starting construction work at the car depot site in violation of the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) order.
Members of the Aarey Conservation Group, including environmentalist Stalin D from the NGO Vanashakti, Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam and other nature lovers participated in the protest, which ended with them threatening to intensify the agitation if the police fail to take action in two days (by Saturday).
Stalin D said, "We will gather at the site and protest if the work does not stop. Why this hurry to build the car shed when the authorities will have three years to do it while the tunnels are being drilled. This only proves that there are ulterior motives; building the depot in Aarey is part of a land scam.
The Aarey police have posted several cops near the Metro III site following the protest that took place on Wednesday
The Metro III car shed has long been at the centre of controversy, as activists are opposed to the heavy loss of trees and biodiversity it will cause in the ecologically sensitive woods of Aarey. The matter is currently being heard by the NGT, which issued a status quo order, forbidding any construction in Aarey until the case is decided.
"Promising the court that they would not do any work, and then constructing between two hearings – this is proof that MMRCL is trying to pull off a fait accompli situation," alleged Stalin.
Activists handed a letter to the cops, alleging that the MMRC has illegally started construction. However, time and again, the Metro authorities have claimed that they have all the required permissions to start the work.
Cops on alert
Following Wednesday morning's protest, the police have posted additional protection at the Metro II site near Picnic Point. At least 10 constables have been deployed, along with a police van on stand by. Police patrolling has also been increased in the area.
Senior Police Inspector Vijaylaxmi Hirmate, from Aarey police station, said, "The people protesting the car depot at Aarey have given us a letter, and we are investigating the matter. If we find any irregularity, we will take action. We do not want any law-and-order problem, and so, additional police force has been deployed near the site."
The police are already stretched thin, tackling traffic woes in Aarey ever since the main road had to be closed following severe damage to a bridge. "We have a lot of issues to look after, including the bridge collapse, where we have to deploy our personnel. There are some law-and-order issues in Film City as well, for which additional staff has been deployed. We have also deployed additional force at the Metro car depot site," said an officer.
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