Mumbai: Days after the Bombay High Court stayed the Mumbai Suburban District Collector’s decision to transfer 102 acres of land to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for building a Metro car shed, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government on Wednesday set up a nine-member committee headed by the Chief Secretary to recommend an alternate site for the project.
The committee has been asked to submit a report within a month.
The committee will examine whether the land allocated at Aarey Colony for Metro 3 car shed site as per the project plan was sufficient or will need additional land. Also, whether additional trees will have to be cut to accommodate construction of the car shed.
The committee’s term of reference is important as Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had strongly justified the cancellation of the Aarey Colony site and shifting it to Kanjurmarg, saying that the state government will not pursue infrastructure development at the cost of environment.
MMRDA had already acquired 25 hectare land and had carried out some construction at the Aarey Colony site. However, it had recently communicated to the state government that the 25-hectare tract in Aarey Colony will be “insufficient to handle future traffic and hence can prove to be an imperfect solution.” The MMRDA had strongly made out a case for the Kanjurmarg land as a “better option” for the car shed.
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), which is executing the project, had already cut 2141 trees of the permitted 2185 trees in October 2019 following a Bombay High Court order. Subsequently, Thackeray stayed the metro car shed construction in November last year.
The MMRDA had argued that 30 hectare land will be needed at Aarey Colony to meet the full projected requirement. This would have required the additional 5 ha of land kept aside, as there are more than 1000 trees existing on the land. According to MMRDA, Aarey was planned to accommodate a total of 39 rakes, but MMRC would require 42 trains by 2031.
The committee will assess the integration of metro 3 and 6 lines, the estimated expenditure and the duration for project completion. The committee’s mandate is crucial as Thackeray had said that Kanjurmarg was suitable for the construction of car shed for metro 3, 4 and 6 and also for the interconnection of metro 4 and 14 without incurring additional investment.
Further, the committee will examine whether the Kanjurmarg land is an ideal site, compared to the Aarey Colony plot, considering the efficiency and public interest. The committee will also look into whether Kanjurmarg land is adequate and ideal for handling the transport needs of metro 3,4 and 6.