On Day 1 in office, Uddhav Thackeray stays Aarey tree-cutting for Metro carshed

Updated: Nov 30, 2019, 07:27 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray says his government is not against the Metro rail project, but no more trees will be cut in Aarey without a proper study.

The designated Metro car shed plot in Aarey was cleared of trees in October. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
The designated Metro car shed plot in Aarey was cleared of trees in October. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

MI dilela shabd paalto (I keep my word)," said CM Uddhav Thackeray before announcing the suspension of Metro III's controversial Aarey car depot. He said he hadn't stalled the Metro project but wanted to review the car shed for which trees had been cut under the cover of darkness early last month. During the protests and the election campaign, the Shiv Sena had promised to take a firm decision on the car shed and relocate it to an alternative site. Insiders said the next action from the chief minister would be to transfer the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation's top brass.

These would include its CMD and senior IAS officer Ashwini Bhide, who had had a verbal duel with protesters and political parties opposing the car shed at Aarey. Sena's youth wing president-turned-MLA Aaditya Thackeray had slammed the MMRC over pursuing the project component against public wishes.

Bhide was taken to task by Aaditya, demanding her immediate transfer. The underground metro management said the project was essential for making the project feasible. Similar views were held by the then CM Devendra Fadnavis.

Trees felled for the Metro car-shed at Aarey in October this year. File pic
Trees felled for the Metro car-shed at Aarey in October this year. File pic

"I haven't stalled the Metro project but will review the car shed first and then take appropriate decisions because I don't want trees felled in the dark of the night," CM Thackeray said, adding that he wasn't against development.

"I will not even allow another leaf to be plucked from the trees unless and until there is a policy about Aarey in place," he said on Friday afternoon. Thackeray said the first decision he took after taking charge of the office was to review the need of the Metro shed. He added that he also had certain plans regarding development projects for Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra.

Devendra Fadnavis, who had fast-tracked the Metro III project said that his successor's decision was illegal and in violation of the Supreme Court and High Court orders. Such decisions would demotivate investors and delay big-ticket Mumbai projects, he said. "It's unfortunate that the state government has stayed Aarey metro car shed work despite court orders. This shows that the government is not serious about Mumbai infrastructure projects," the former CM said. "Ultimately Mumbaikars will suffer. Japan's JICA has funded R15,000 crore for the Metro III project on nominal interest rates. Such decisions will demotivate investors in the future," he said.

Police chief's tenure extended again
Mumbai Police chief Sanjay Barve was on Friday given a three-month extension in service by the Centre for the second consecutive time, a Personnel Ministry order said. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved extension in his service for a further three months, beyond November 30, 2019, it said. Barve was to complete his extended tenure on Saturday.

Rs 15,000 cr
Amount of funding by Japan's JICA for the Metro III project

No. of days the MVA has to prove majority

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