Mumbai: Row over Aarey Colony puts focus back on Kanjurmarg

Updated: Sep 06, 2019, 07:34 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav, Chetna Yerunkar

With BMC boss telling corporators that a Kanjurmarg carshed would have cost a whopping Rs 5,000 crore, activists raise several questions

Vikhroli Mangroves
Vikhroli Mangroves

Lost in Wednesday's din over flooding were Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi's comments in front of the BMC standing committee that shifting the controversial Metro car shed to Kanjurmarg would have cost the state a whopping Rs 5,000 crore. This is by far the highest figure that has come out as the likely cost of shifting the car shed from the greenlands of Aarey Colony, and activists are now raising several questions over it.

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On Thursday, BMC Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi expanded on his statement in the standing committee. "Technically, Aarey was the best site for Metro operations, but due to opposition, a technical committee, which was appointed to explore alternatives, said if Aarey is not possible, the car-drop could be shifted to Kanjurmarg," he told mid-day. "But as there the plot was under litigation, the government went to the High Court, saying it will acquire the land and the SC told the government to deposit the value of the land if it was serious. MMRC then went to the Ready Reckoner (RR) and the value of the plot was R2,400 crore. As per the Land Acquisition Act, the RR value has to be doubled if the land is in the city. So the cost of the Kanjurmarg land is Rs 4,800 crore and that is how I mentioned the cost as Rs 5,000 crore (as we had not calculated interest, etc). All this was stated to the SC in the affidavit that was filed in 2015 by the government."

But activists refuse to buy his argument, saying the expert committee had said the cost of shifting the project would be only between Rs 750 crore and Rs 1,500 crore to level the land. "Pardeshi has made a false statement," said activist Zoru Bhathena. "Further, the land that was suggested is a 41-hectare plot that is free of any litigation. But some officials are misleading people by saying it is under litigation."

AareyActivists fighting to save Aarey for years say the authorities are making false statements to mislead people. File pic

Bhathena said this is borne out in documents submitted by the suburban collector to the high court in December 2015 and also in the Urban Development Department's official plans. He added that the car shed for Metro VI is planned at the same spot. "How is it that the same plot is under litigation when it is suggested instead of Aarey, but is viable for Metro VI? We have all the documents related to the Kanjurmarg plot," he said.

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The technical committee in question was appointed by CM Devendra Fadnavis in 2015 following protests. The panel examined several options, including at Backbay Reclamation, Mahalaxmi Race Course, Mumbai Port Trust, a university plot in Kalina, Bandra Kurla Complex and Dharavi. Considering the size required for a carshed, it suggested Kanjurmarg.

Both the MMRCL and the CM have in the past stated shifting the carshed will increase project cost by Rs 1,500 crore and that this would be a burden on commuters in the form of higher fares.

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