'Spend on Metro depot instead of Coastal Road'

Updated: Sep 07, 2019, 07:45 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

Activists slam civic body for defending Aarey tree cutting; ask it to consider spending on shifting Metro depot instead of the 'destructive' Coastal Road project

'Spend on Metro depot instead of Coastal Road'
Work on the Coastal Road has been stalled owing to a High Court order against it

After Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi defended the Aarey car depot as the only viable option as against a depot at Kanjurmarg which would cost R5,000 crore more, activists have questioned the government’s reluctance to spend the excess amount.
Why not spend on the project to help 16 lakh people who would travel via Metro III every day instead of spending on the Coastal Road which will hardly serve one lakh citizens per day and cost much more, activists argued.

Pardeshi, on Thursday, also said that the land at Kanjurmarg was under litigation and an excess amount of R5,000 crore would be required just to shift the depot from Aarey.

The Metro III, as well as the Coastal Road project, have been stuck owing to public outcry. While work on the Coastal Road has been stopped owing to a High Court order, the approval to hack 2,646 trees for the Aarey car depot has now been challenged in the High Court. Activists have been circulating messages over social media and Whatsapp messages comparing the two projects and asking Mumbaikars what is a “better option.”

Also Read: Mumbai: Row over Aarey Colony puts focus back on Kanjurmarg

“Authorities are ready to spend R5,000 crore to construct about a 3.5-km stretch of the 9.98-km long coastal road, then why not spend that amount on constructing the 7.5-km extension to the line up to Kanjurmarg and ensure the much-needed Central Railway connectivity currently missing from Metro III,” activist Zoru Bhathena said. BMC officials have, however, said that there was “no point in such comparisons” as two separate agencies are planning and executing these projects.

A civic official, not willing to be named, said, “The Coastal Road is BMC’s project and the funds too are of the corporation, whereas MMRCL will be undertaking the Metro car depot and there is no question of shifting funds.”

“Why can’t the government integrate its big project planning? Assuming that shifting the car shed would cost R5,000 crore — which I am sure is not the case — the government should evaluate what is more important. Helping the travel of 16 lakh people or benefitting one lakh people who would only add more carbon footprint with their cars,” questioned environmentalist Zoru Bhathena.

Responsible development

Among the protesters at Aarey were also some Bollywood celebrities. Actor Tara Sharma who stressed on the need for strengthening public transport said, “Moving the metro shed will not just save Aarey but will also encourage public transport. Coastal Road, in any case, is not a solution to traffic woes; it will eventually only cause more congestion.”
The reclamation of 200 acres of coastal land, of which only 20 per cent is to be used for road construction, “will destroy the coast, attract construction activities and eventually act as a dam which god forbid will lead to even more colossal flooding and natural disasters,” she said, adding that she wasn’t anti-development but insisted on “responsible development.”

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