The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi ally Congress on Saturday fired a salvo against the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and alleged that there was a systematic plan hatched by the previous government led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to make the commercial use of Aarey land during its tenure. Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Sachin Sawant claimed that although during the Fadnavis government tenure, the Metro car shed was proposed on 20 hectare, 62 hectare of land was earmarked for it in Aarey Colony and the remaining 41 hectare of land was to be used for commercial exploitation.
Sawant, who released a few papers to substantiate his argument, alleged that the Fadnavis government had deliberately rejected the proposal for the development of Metro car shed on Kanjurmarg land citing that Rs 5,000 crore was needed to pay to a private claimant for that land. However, the BJP now stands exposed as no one has staked any claim on the Kanjurmarg land where the car shed for Metro 3 and 6 will come up.
‘’The technical committee set up by the Fadnavis government had said that the state government had not allotted land on the Kanjurmarg route for the Metro car shed but had asked for the project to be implemented on 20.82 hectare instead of 30 hectare to save trees on the land. The previous Fadnavis government kept the land in Kanjurmarg under wraps and told the people that the project would be implemented on 25 hectare in Aarey, but when the state government filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in 2019, it was accompanied by a plan for the Aarey project site in which the actual area is 61.6 hectare,’’ said Sawant. He has now sought explanation from Fadnavis why additional 40 hectare in Aarey Colony was sought.
Sawant claimed that in the absence of any court order or any private claim, from 2015 to 2020, Fadnavis, the government officials and the BJP leaders kept on saying that if they wanted to take land in Kanjurmarg, they would have to pay Rs 5,000 crore.
‘’The DPR of Metro 6 shows the depot of Metro 6 will come up at Kanjurmarg. This means that the state government knew that the site was not in dispute and no private claimant has come forward to stake claim on the land. So this proves the BJP’s hypocrisy,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, BJP has retorted Sawant’s charges saying that the decision to use Aarey land for commercial purpose was taken by the former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. However, it was rejected by the Fadnavis government while issuing final notification. BJP MLA Ashish Shelar said the Fadnavis government had explored various options for Metro 3 car shed but it was finally concluded that Aarey land was best suited for the same. The government in the notification issued on November 9, 2017 clarified that the Aarey land will not be used for commercial purpose.