'Why was the previous Maharashtra government lying about Kanjurmarg?,' ask citizens, environmentalists
With CM's announcement about shifting Metro - 3 car shed on govt land without incurring additional cost, environmentalists and citizens wonder if previous govt did not intend to shift it
The announcement by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, about shifting the Metro-3 carshed from Aarey Milk Colony to Kanjurmarg, has once again raised serious questions about the previous state government. While the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) has allegedly been claiming that there were technical issues in shifting the car depot to Kanjurmarg from Aarey, did the previous government have no intention to shift it? Citizens' groups and environmentalists had even felt it was lying.
Sources from the current state government have said that 102 acres of government land were handed over to MMRDA last week and the car depot for metro line 6 and 3 will be constructed on a plot close to the Eastern Express Highway near Kanjurmarg.
Also read: Mumbai: Aaditya Thackeray Joins Aarey Battle
A government official said, "As per the new plan, the Metro line 3 will come out of the tunnel after SEEPZ at Aarey and then move on to the ramp through a few pillars in Aarey and then merge on to the east bound direction of metro line 6 and proceed to Kanjurmarg."
Environmentalist Stalin D at the Metro - 3 site at where soil testing has begun.
City-based green activists, had claimed that the car depot of Swami Samarth Nagar- Lokhandwala metro line 6 was planned on the same plot in Kanjurmarg but when they had asked the previous state government to also use it for Metro 3 depot, it came up with excuses.
'Why was previous govt lying?'
After a huge protest and opposition from environmentalists and nature lovers in 2015, then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had appointed a technical committee to suggest alternative locations. The committee examined several options including Backbay Reclamation, Mahalaxmi racecourse, Mumbai Port Trust, a university plot in Kalina, Bandra Kurla Complex, Dharavi and even Kanjurmarg.
However, MMRCL and Fadnavis had then said that taking metro line 3 car depot to Kanjurmarg would increase the project cost by R 1,500 crore as the marshy land at Kanjurmarg would have to be first strengthened.
With Thackeray's announcement that the car depot will shift on government owned land without incurring any additional cost, the question that arises in people's minds, is why was the earlier government lying.
Environmentalist Stalin D from NGO Vanashakti and who is also a member of the Aarey Conservation group said about the government's decision, "This is economically, ecologically and logistically a wise decision. A win-win formula that was being deliberately ignored by the previous government for reasons not difficult to understand."
Green activist Zoru Bhathena said, "Citizens will reap the priceless benefit of better Metro connectivity. The government will benefit from life-long cost savings from merging depots. Mumbaikars will forever benefit from the preservation of the Aarey Forest. The only question that remains unanswered is why the previous government refused to act for the overall benefit of Mumbai - when all these benefits were known in 2015 itself?"
Environmentalist Anand Pendharkar from NGO SPROUTS said, "This also goes to show that if managing politicians have the intention, even badly designed infrastructure can be changed to safeguard local ecosystems. This is how democracy survives and succeeds."
mid-day's battle for Aarey's environment
For the past seven years, mid-day has been highlighting the importance of saving the biodiversity in Aarey Milk Colony. It has consistently reported about the wildlife sightings in Aarey Milk Colony.
In February 2015, it did a story (No wildlife at Aarey site? Did MMRC lie to get R5,000 cr loan for Metro) about how the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the project prepared by the authorities had claimed that constructing the Metro car depot in Aarey Colony will have no major ecological impact because there is no wildlife at the site. On the basis of that report, a year later, JICA signed an agreement with the government for an Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan of R4,700 crore (or 71 billion yen) for the construction of Metro line III (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz corridor).
On January 10, 2016, mid-day had done a story (Hey MMRDA, Aarey is a forest and it has leopards. Here's proof) stating a camera trapping exercise carried out by the Thane FD between December 2014 and 2015, had proven that not only is Aarey Colony home to nine leopards, these big cats co-exist in perfect peace with the local residents. A unique man-animal harmony seen nowhere else in the world.
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