Mumbai: Committee to start visits to Aarey for car shed alternatives

Updated: Dec 16, 2019, 07:37 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

They will also visit the site in Aarey where trees have been cut to make way for Metro car shed

Save Aarey group celebrates the stay order on the Metro car depot at Birsa Munda Chowk, Goregaon
Save Aarey group celebrates the stay order on the Metro car depot at Birsa Munda Chowk, Goregaon

Members of a committee appointed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to suggest alternative locations for the Metro III car shed will start their site visits today. They will also visit the site in Aarey where trees have been cut to make way for the car shed and eventually file a report on the matter.

Confirming the same, a committee member said, "The first meeting of the committee took place on Friday, during which we discussed several things related to the car depot. We will start the visits to identify alternative sites for the car shed on Monday."

The four-member committee will be headed by Additional Chief Secretary (Finance), Manoj Sounik and the other members include Principal Secretary of Environment Department, Anil Diggikar; Managing Director of Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), R S Khurana (technical member) and Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) Director and Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF), Amwar Ahmed (forest expert). The committee, which was formed on December 9, has been given two weeks time to visit the alternate sites and submit the final report.

Another member said, "We will try and finish the site visits in the coming week and then the work on preparing the report will start. But in case we need more time to prepare the report, we might request the government for an extension." Apart from visiting the site where trees have been cut, the team will also refer to the reports related to Aarey's biodiversity. The member further said that the team would also go through the earlier report prepared by the chief minister-appointed expert committee in 2015 and visit the alternative sites suggested in it.

The 2015 expert committee had studied nine sites across the city as alternatives for setting up the car depot, of which the then MMRDA commissioner had found three sites — Kanjurmarg, Backbay Reclamation and Aarey Milk Colony — to be feasible. NGO Vanashakti, which has been fighting to save Aarey along with the Aarey Conservation Group, had written a letter to the state government and committee members stating that there were six alternate sites where the car depot could be shifted. They include BackBay, Kalina BKC, Mahalaxmi, Seepz and Kanjurmarg. NGO Vanashakti had also demanded that the committee should investigate whether due process was followed for cutting 2,100 trees on the day the HC dismissed challenges.

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