Mumbai: “There is no point in keeping people with you forcibly when they have decided to move away from you,” Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray said on Saturday while commenting on how 40 MLAs of his party broke away from the Shiv Sena when his father Uddhav Thackeray was heading the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. Aaditya Thackeray was interacting with journalists of the Free Press Journal group at Free Press House on Saturday evening.
Aaditya: People were being pressured by the Central agencies
Thackeray said they knew it was coming. “I have spoken earlier as well, that people were being pressured by the Central agencies. (Eknath) Shinde had come to us crying… When we realised that things have reached this stage, we decided to let it go,” he said, adding that it wasn’t that they were clueless about the impending revolt with all the intelligence agencies at their disposal.
During a frank interaction lasting over an hour, the young politician also fielded queries ranging from climate change and sustainability, Ratnagiri refinery and his lifestyle with a straight bat. Regarding sustainability and the currently hot issue of the agitation in Barsu, Ratnagiri, against the proposed refinery and petrochemical complex, he said, “The government has not spoken to the local people. There have been two groups. One welcomes the project while the other is opposing it. Now it appears that the other has grown larger. This is because of lack of clarity and transparency on the part of the state government.”
“BJP govts have chosen rigidity over flexibility, ego over empathy"
He blamed both the Central and state governments for the sorry state of affairs. While highlighting the difference between the MVA government and the present government, he said, “The BJP governments have chosen rigidity over flexibility, ego over empathy. It was due to similar reasons that the previous BJP government, too, faced opposition to the same project at Nanar. In response, we heeded to the people’s call and cancelled Nanar and proposed to relocate the project swiftly. To not lose the project, we proposed that it be moved to relatively less densely populated Barsu. Our clear directive to MIDC and project proponents was – give people the clarity they want, first. Let them decide if they want the project.”
He said when the government changed, the intent to have a dialogue was lost and now it seems to have become a personal ego challenge for the current regime to impose the project against the will of the people. “Lathi charge and tear gas are not the way to go about implementing a mega project,” he observed.
Aaditya slams Shinde govt for environment-friendly industries & projects
Thackeray also criticized the present dispensation for losing environment-friendly industries and projects to other states while attracting the polluting ones. He said, “Under the current regime, extreme contrasts are seen. On the one hand, companies and projects like Vedanta Foxconn, Airbus-Tata, bulk drugs park, medical devices park, solar energy equipment park, Puo Chen Pvt Ltd have been relocated to other states while the projects like Nanar-Barsu are foisted upon with full force and police.”
Climate action plans
Describing various measures that he had taken while in power for a sustainable future, he pointed out efforts for developing climate action plans. “We had prepared a climate action plan for Mumbai, which can be seen on the BMC website even today. We were also in the process of developing similar action plans based on localised studies for 44 cities across the state. Unfortunately that work seems to have completely stopped,” he said.
As for the salient features and corroborating actions proposed in the plan, he pointed at decarbonisation of the transport system as one example. “We had brought in plans to have 10,000 electric buses for BEST. Electric buses are far cheaper in cost for commuters as well as cost on environment. But, now I hear that the plan has been scrapped and 400 diesel buses are likely to be purchased.” he said.
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