The Shinde-Fadnavis government has vacated the stay granted by the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government on the development of the metro carshed in Aarey Colony. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy, Devendra Fadnavis, strongly defended the government’s decision on Thursday, saying that the development of the metro carshed and the completion of Colaba-Seepz Metro 3 were important for Mumbaikars, as it would provide them relief in commuting and also help reduce pollution. Shinde said nearly 17 lakh commuters would travel by the metro.
Fadnavis said 25 per cent of the carshed had been constructed and the balance would be completed soon, adding that the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal had given clearance for the same site. Besides, the land had been selected by the Congress-NCP government and later on, it was the BJP-led government zeroed in on it after carrying out a comprehensive environment appraisal, he said.
Fadnavis accused the former chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray, of having stayed work on the metro carshed in Aarey Colony out of ‘ego issues’ and said that moving the carshed to Kanjurmarg was not economically and financially viable. He also reminded that the committee appointed by his government, comprising senior bureaucrats Ajoy Mehta and Nitin Kareer had strongly recommended that the carshed be developed in Aarey.
Further, Fadnavis said the committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary Manoj Saunak, appointed by the MVA government, had observed that relocating the metro carshed to Kanjurmarg would result in Rs 20,000 crore escalation in costs and another four years for construction. “The Rs 22,000-crore project would have faced time and cost escalation, as per the Saunik Committee’s report,” he added.
Referring to the agitation launched by the environmentalists against the metro carshed in Aarey Colony, Fadnavis said their motives needed to be understood. However, he noted that environmentalists should continue to express their views which would be given due importance.
The government’s decision is crucial, considering that the Shiv Sena, NCP, Congress and a number of citizens’ organisations and environmentalists have opposed it on the grounds that Aarey is a forest and locating the metro carshed there would severely damage key fauna and flora.
Former CM Uddhav Thackeray had recently made a fervent appeal to the Shinde-Fadnavis government, asking it not to go ahead with the carshed project in Aarey, an area declared a reserved forest by the previous MVA regime. He asked the BJP not to betray Mumbai on the carshed issue in the manner that it had ‘betrayed’ him in power politics.
The former environment minister, Aaditya Thackeray, claimed that the metro car shed project would further escalate the issue of the flooding of the Mithi river. He also justified the protest against the project, saying it was a fight for Mumbai and life.
However, Fadnavis countered Aaditya’s claim, saying that floods in Mithi river were not caused by the carshed but because of the illegal constructions that flourished with the consent of the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation.
“Aditya Thackeray was the environment minister but that does not mean that he has done a study. All permissions have been granted for the carshed after necessary studies,” said Fadnavis.