Metro car shed: Maha panel to look for alternate land

Mumbai: Maha Vikas Aghadi government on Wednesday set up a four-member panel headed by the additional chief secretary (finance) to look into an alternate viable site for the construction of Metro car shed instead of the present one in Aarey Colony.

The panel has been asked to study whether the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), which is the nodal agency for the construction of Metro 3 corridor Colaba Bandra SEEPZ followed stipulated norms to cut 2,100 trees in Aarey Colony.

Further, the panel which also comprises principal secretary (environment), MMRC managing director and chief forest conservator of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, will also suggest measures for environment conservation in Aarey Colony while carrying out the construction of car shed. The panel will have to submit its report in 15 days.

The government decision comes exactly after a fortnight when Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had stayed the construction of Metro car shed in Aarey Colony. MMRC has immediately stopped the construction work and is incurring a daily loss of Rs 4.30 crore.

Thackeray had clarified that he was not against development projects but the environment must not be harmed. He had said that his government will not give permission for any tree cutting at Aarey Colony. CM had added that further decision on the Metro depot will be taken only after consulting all stakeholders.

Thackeray's son and Shiv Sena legislator Aaditya Thackeray has repeatedly challenged the BJP government’s stand on this issue. He had argued that MMRC's plan to build a Metro car shed at the lush green Aarey land, considered as Green Lungs of the city, would be disastrous for the biodiversity.

However, MMRC had said that of the 30-hectare land, which the state government had handed over in August 2014, 21 hectares are being used for the metro card shed development, while the existing tree cover spread of over 5 hectares has been maintained and 4 hectares are to be used for the construction of mainline for trains to come and go out.

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Free Press Journal