The Shinde-Fadnavis government decided to go by the recommendations made by the two committees appointed by the BJP and Maha Vikas Aghadi governments and the judgements by the Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal to vacate stay on the development of metro car shed in Aarey Colony.
The four member committee headed by the additional chief secretary (finance) Manoj Sauvik, which was formed by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, in its report in January 2020 had observed that shifting metro car shed from Aarey Colony was not viable. However, the committee recommended that the state government should notify the unbuilt green areas inside the colony as a no-construction belt, preserving it like a protected forest.
The committee said shifting the car shed would lead to a further delay in the Colaba-SEEPZa metro 3 project’s commissioning and cause cost escalations. In 2015, the project was worth Rs 23,000 crore with the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRCL) relying mainly on off-budget borrowings to fund it. MMRCL had estimated that delay of each day in the project’s commissioning increased the cost by Rs 4.2 crore.
The committee had suggested land at Kanjurmarg where a car shed for another Metro line (Jogeshwari-Lokhandwala-Vikhroli-Kanjurmarg) has been proposed and another site just outside the Aarey land (Sariput Nagar) at Jogeshwari. However, the panel ruled that the shifting of the car shed would involve logistical and legal challenges, bringing further delays in the commissioning of the Metro corridor. The Metro 3 service was originally proposed to be operational from December 2020 but it has been already running behind schedule.
Expert Committee suggested double deck car shed in Aarey Colony
The expert committee in October 2015 had recommended Kanjurmarg in north-east Mumbai be used as an alternative site for such a facility. The members included the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority Commissioner UPS Madan, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta, Urban Development Principal Secretary Nitin Kareer, scientist Rakesh Kumar from National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation's SD Sharma and Dr Shyam Asolekar, professor at IIT-Bombay.
The committee examined various alternatives, including Backbay Reclamation, Mahalaxmi Race Course, a plot with Mumbai Port Trust, Bandra-Kurla Complex, the Mumbai University campus at Kalina and Dharavi before finally zeroing in on Kanjurmarg.This would entail an additional expenditure of Rs 750 crore.
The committee has advised that the work on the Colaba- Seepz corridor and Jogeshwari-Kanjurmarg corridor should be carried out simultaneously if the carshed is to come up at Kanjurmarg. It had also suggested that the work be done by MMRCL.
The other option suggested by the committee was for the building of a double-deck carshed in Aarey Colony itself with a changed lay-out so that only 446 trees would need to be cut.
Among other suggestions put forward by the committee for saving the greenery in Aarey Colony was groundwater charging, planting three trees for every tree that is cut, planting trees which grow more than 10 feet high, and roping in experts for the planting.