Sources say they were cancelled as they could have enabled the local leopards to enter the Metro car shed; BMC officials tight-lipped
One was planned on the main Aarey Milk Colony road, which now has an obstruction—the Metro car shed boundary wall (on left)
The BMC is believed to have scrapped two wildlife underpasses on Aarey main road that could have opened portals for leopards to stray into the Metro 3 car depot, according to sources. These were planned on the picnic point-Marol road stretch close to the car shed site, which was last year found to be home to at least five leopards.
A source involved in the cement concretisation work of the BMC told mid-day that the two underpasses were cancelled citing technical reasons.
The Metro car shed boundary wall was in the way of the now-cancelled underpass
A source from BMC, requesting anonymity, said, “Small underpasses, meant to allow leopards, reptiles and other wildlife animals cross the road safely, were part of the cement concretisation work of main Aarey Milk Colony when it was planned. Several underpasses have already been constructed. However, two-three underpasses planned on the stretch between picnic point and Marol have been cancelled, as the boundary wall of the Metro 3 car depot has been built. If underpasses are constructed now, their opening cannot be built on the side of the car depot due to the wall.”
Another wildlife underpass was planned ahead of vehicular underpass on the stretch, but it’s now been cancelled because the land on either side of the road is not at the same level, the sources said.
The BMC has instead made a box culvert under the same stretch of the road, near the car depot, which can double up as a storm water drain during monsoon, sources said.
This paper has time and again highlighted the presence of flora and fauna in Aarey, particularly in the area where the car shed is being built.
The work on Metro 3 car shed, which was stopped by the previous MVA regime over environmental concerns, got a green signal soon after rebel Shiv Sena group and the BJP formed government last June. On July 15, mid-day reported the findings of a camera-trapping study, which revealed that the car depot site is home to at least five leopards, jungle cats, mongooses and monitor lizards.
Senior BMC officials did not respond to mid-day’s request for comment.