Mumbai: Activists appalled as Shinde-Fadnavis govt seeks to shift proposed Metro-3 car shed back to Aarey Colony

The move will deal a death blow to Aarey, activists feel

Sweety AdimulamUpdated: Friday, July 01, 2022, 11:42 PM IST
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Mumbai: Activists appalled as Shinde-Fadnavis govt seeks to shift proposed Metro-3 car shed back to Aarey Colony, | (PTI Photo)

Mumbai: ‘Save Aarey’ activists are appalled by the decision of the new Maharashtra government directing the advocate general and urban development department officials to prepare a proposal to relocate the Metro-3 depot to Aarey, instead of Kanjur Marg, as had been proposed by the former Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

The move will deal a death blow to Aarey, activists feel.

Environmentalist D Stalin, a Save Aarey petitioner and the founder of Vanshakti, said that the urgency shown in the matter even before a cabinet has been formed, only “confirms our belief that developers”, allegedly “backed by Fadnavis, are eyeing Aarey”. He said, “In any case, the carshed cannot be built without cutting trees and there is a ban on tree felling imposed by the Supreme Court. For two-and-a-half years, we tried to get the matter heard, only to be denied one. It will be interesting to see how fast the court grants the hearing to this government and how it saves or destroys Aarey.” He further asked, “Why have Mr Shinde or Fadnavis not spoken about where the Metro-6 carshed will be located? Is that not equally important? The entire drama is to hand over Aarey to builders.”

Activists have already expressed their intention to fight the battle legally to protect Aarey; the matter is already in court. The Metro depot proposed at Kanjurmarg by the erstwhile MVA government could not take off following the Centre’s claim to the title of the land, with the matter going to court and awaiting a final hearing. Also, only a small portion of piling work had been done at Aarey when it was first proposed as the site for a depot; later on, a stay was imposed. Phase 1 of the BKC-to-SEEPZ project, is aimed to begin as per the revised deadline - end of 2023/ Jan 2024. The Covid pandemic has also been another factor in the 32km-project missing its deadline.

Meanwhile, the underground Metro 3 line (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) civil work has been going on for well over half a decade now. The Covid-19 outbreak and the ensuing lockdown affected the project. Now, as per the revised timeline, Phase 1 (SEEPZ to Bandra) is targeted for completion by the end of 2023 or by early 2024. Overall, 53.78-km of tunnelling for the project, approximately 98.60 per cent of the work, has been completed. The initial plan for a trial run on the underground track at Marol-Maroshi has not been taken up, as the civil work so far has not been completed as expected. Only when the said work is complete can the trial run be conducted, or the rakes will remain unused, according to MMRDA Commissioner S V R Srinivas, who has been given charge of the additional Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) undertaking, the Metro Line 3 project. Recently, the MMRC had announced that it had completed 41 breakthrough works and was just one breakthrough away from the milestone.

Meanwhile, another prominent environment activist, Zoru Bhathena said, “It was the Fadnavis government that had, in 2015, found a way to integrate the metro lines with a depot at Kanjur. And it was the Fadnavis government which then abandoned this plan, for reasons best known to it. When the Thackeray government found that such an integration was still very much possible, they went ahead with it. But Mr Fadnavis, through the Union Government’s salt department, objected and stalled the Kanjur-integrated depot.” Along with the Metro 3 line, two other Lines were also stalled in the process, Bhathena pointed out, claiming, “It was Mr Fadnavis who stalled the development of Mumbai Metro for 2.5 years, and now he is making up stories of how he will save the metro! All that Mumbai needs is saving from such obnoxious plans. Why destroy nature when viable options are available?”

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