Don’t touch Aarey land: Aaditya Thackeray dare

Mumbai: After forcing the BJP government to stall the Jaitapur nuclear power project, the Shiv Sena is again at loggerheads with the former.

Yuva Sena Chief Aaditya Thackeray has strongly opposed the proposed tree-cutting in Aarey for the Metro car shed.

“Currently the whole debate is concentrated on technical aspects and nobody is paying heed to facts,” Thackeray said and dared the administration to “touch the Aarey land”.

The high-decibel dare has triggered a new slugfest. In the run-up to the Assembly election, it may help the Sena garner support among the well-heeled Mumbaikars; also the concern for the green cover can become a talking point for embarrassing Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is all for the axing of trees.

Thackeray has also demanded that Aarey be declared a forest. This again puts the Sena on collision course with CM Fadnavis who has categorically said that Aarey is not one.

The aggression of Sena may be a subtle attempt at exerting indirect pressure on the BJP in the ongoing seat sharing discussion, say political analysts.

“We are not opposed to the Metro, but we are opposed to having the depot at Aarey,” Aditya clarified. He also said that he is opposed to the haphazard manner in which the administration is working on the car shed project.

A few biodiversity experts were at his side when he made the presentation on the Aarey land. “Though we are meeting at the office of a political party, this not about politics, but about the city, the environment, the ecosystem, the animals and the people,” Aaditrya underscored while addressing a press conference at Sena Bhavan.

MMRCL says that without Aarey land the Metro project will not be feasible. Why are they saying this in the last stage of the project? Are they trying to intimidate the courts and Mumbaikars?” demanded Aaditya.

“If the consultants appointed for this project could not suggest a proper place for the car shed, then we should change the consultant,” he suggested.

‘‘Even if a single person is opposing the project, the government should listen to him,’’ Thackeray said.

Targeting the MMRCL chief Ashwini Bhide, he added that the government should appoint the right kind of officials who will get the work done as per the wishes of the people.

While the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited has been pushing for making the Aarey land available for the car depot, the BMC last week cleared a proposal for felling of 2700 trees in Aarey, to pave the way for it.

BMC boss Pravin Pardeshi had earlier made it clear that the Metro project has a very low carbon footprint and the loss due to felling of trees would be recouped within a year of Metro operations, as the efficiency of the new transport system will push several vehicles off road.

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