MMRC, BMC chiefs defend need for axing trees at Aarey for Metro-3 amid rising protests

While the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) is facing protests and criticisms against the construction of the Metro-3 car shed in Aarey Colony, the MMRC and BMC chiefs have now come out to defend the need for axing 2,185 trees to build the shed.

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation chief Praveen Pardeshi on Monday defended the civic body's decision to fell over 2600 trees to build a metro car shed in suburban Aarey Colony, a prominent green lung, stressing that Mumbai had more trees than London, Tokyo or New York. Speaking at a town hall at the SNDT University here, Pardeshi also brushed aside suggestions by activists to shift the proposed car shed to suburban Kanjurmarg, arguing that the cost of acquiring and developing this plot was very high.

"Mumbai has the least space to develop at present. All of Mumbai lives in 29.99 per cent area. Whatever is happening in metro today is your collective pressure," Pardeshi claimed. While activists have routinely contended that infrastructure development by cutting trees and gobbling up open spaces was leading to floods in the city, Pardeshi retorted, "Is the car depot (at Aarey) up already? If not, then why floods are there?" "Regarding the Kanjurmarg land (as an alternative to the Aarey site), Rs 750 crore is (needed) for development of land while Rs 5000 crore is the cost for acquiring land," he added. Defending the plan to cut trees for the car shed, the BMC chief said, "Mumbai has a higher number of trees compared to other cities, be it London, Tokyo or New York."

Ashwini Bhide, MMRC chief, told the Hindustan Times, “The Metro-3 project will not be feasible if the car shed is not in Aarey Colony.” The view was reiterated by the BMC commissioner Praveen Pardeshi. “The Metro-3 project will not happen without setting up the depot in Aarey,” he said. Similarly, addressing questions about constructing the shed at an alternative site in Kanjurmarg, Bhide said, “We cannot set up a Metro line between Aarey and Kanjurmarg, just to take the carriages to the car shed at Kanjurmarg. This shed was never an option and never will be.”

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