Mumbai: In the thick of the controversy over the Metro 3 carshed development at Kanjurmarg, especially after the Bombay high court stayed the transfer of the land parcel, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Sunday he favours resolution of the ownership issue through a dialogue between the Centre and the state government.
He made it clear that while he was a votary of development, infrastructure works undertaken in haste could lead to pilferage and not true development.
In a web address,Thackeray retorted to the charge levelled by Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis that it was purely ego that led to the metro carshed project being shifted to Kanjurmarg from Aarey Colony.
‘‘Kanjurmarg land is not about my ego and it shouldn't be about yours, too. Yes, I am an egoist when it comes to Mumbai, and the interests of Mumbaikars and the welfare of Maharashtra,’’ he avowed.
Thackeray appealed to the opposition to resolve the Kanjur land issue. ‘‘This can be done through negotiation. We will give you due credit. There is no question of my ego, and I would request you to prevent your ego from encroaching on this issue,’’ he said.
‘‘When Central Government projects are planned in Maharashtra, we give them land without being stand-offish. This Kanjur land may or may not belong to the Centre, but we can easily resolve this dispute,’’ he noted.
He said the "costliest" land in the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) was given for the Central Government's bullet train project, despite opposition. ‘‘We did not create obstructions. If you create problems in Kanjurmarg and we do so at BKC, it will serve no purpose,’’ he said.
‘‘Should we forego land just because there is a dispute? Then, who will resolve the dispute and who will take the land? A builder? Centre & State must sit together and negotiate. This land does not belong to us. It belongs to the people and must be used in their interests,’’ Thackeray argued.
He also strongly defended the state government’s decision to scrap the Metro 3 carshed at Aarey, saying that the government had saved the environment, increased the scope of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and created a huge, 800-acre jungle, the first such forest in an urban area in the world with wildlife.
‘‘The Kanjur land is 40 hectares, versus the 25 hectares at Aarey. At Aarey, five hectares is forest land, which we have included in the project but have committed will not use for now. At Kanjur, the land has grass or is barren. We chose the Kanjur land where carsheds for lines 3, 4 and 6 can be built, as against just Metro 3 at Aarey. Kanjur can be an interchange that goes to Ambarnath-Badlapur or for people to travel to Andheri or Colaba,’’ he noted.
Speaking of development, the CM asserted that the Aarey site would have been inadequate in another five years, while ‘‘our plans at Kanjur were futuristic and would meet the needs for another 50 or 100 years’’.
Thackeray took a swipe at the BJP, saying that despite its predictions about the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, it had completed a year on November 28. He said the government had put on fast track implementation of development projects and other welfare schemes despite financial constraints and lack of clearance of tax dues by the Centre.
No lockdown, curfew but keep masks on for 6 months
Chief Minister Thackeray also spoke about the Covid-19 situation in the state. He said that he was not in favour of night curfew or another lockdown in the state, as the coronavirus situation was under control, albeit not completely.
‘‘There is a fear that if the lockdown is lifted, the rapidly spreading virus could cause a bigger outbreak than last time. Experts have suggested a fresh lockdown and a night curfew in Mumbai. Night curfew and lockdown can be imposed by law. But why do it? 70-75 per cent of people wear face masks. I urge the rest of us to do the same,’’ he noted. He urged citizens to take every care during the New Year celebrations.
“The threat of corona is yet to pass.To avoid the virus, do not crowd in public places, wear masks, observe physical distance and keep washing hands. Wearing masks will be mandatory for the next six months in the state, in view of the raging pandemic. Prevention is better than cure,’’ he noted.