While two new Metro rail lines are expected to open up for the public from September this year; the availability of land for the carshed for the majority of Metro rail lines, which is the primary need for smooth operations of any Metro rail line; remains a major concern, and not just the controversy over the land in Kanjurmarg lieu of the Aarey site. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is struggling to procure almost 136 hectares of land for different Metro rail corridors interweaving the city. And it seems that the Maharashtra government, incumbent and earlier ones, haven’t been able to do much about it due to lack of political will.
The MMRDA is struggling to get hold of these land parcels namely at Dahisar (26 hectares), Mankhurd (30 hectares), Kanjurmarg (40 hectares) and Thane (40 hectares). The only land parcel readily available is at Charkop (25 hectares), where initially the Metro rail coaches plying on Metro 7 on Andheri (E)-Dahisar (E) and Metro 2A on Dahisar (W)-DN Nagar, will be stabled.
But even Charkop has a restriction of 25-27 rakes. “After that we will need the land at Dahisar (E),” said an official from MMRDA. The land at Dahisar belongs to the Airport Authority of India (AAI) who are ready to swap it with another land that the MMRDA has agreed to hand them over. A senior official from the Urban Development department said that at Dahisar there is no progress as far as land availability is concerned as MMRDA are yet to receive.
Sources however, said that the other parcel of land belonged to the Law department which wanted to setup a Maharashtra National Law University on 40 acres of land space. Even a suo-moto PIL was filed and a stay was levied. MMRDA officials claimed that a land space was allotted in the Pahadi area of Goregaon which now is over 45 hectares. However, now the state government hasn’t taken any decision on the same and the land interchange is stuck.
At Mankhurd, a 30 hectares land is available for the carshed for the 23 km long Metro 2B line of DN Nagar-Mandale corridor. "The land at Mankhurd is in possession and work has started. Likewise, the one at Charkop is also available and work is completed," said an official from the Urban Development department.
Another roadblock in land acquisition for Metro rail project is at Mograpada in Thane for Metro-4 line coming up on 32 km long Wadala-Kasarvadavali. The officials from MMRDA and Urban Development department agreed that acquiring 40 hectares of land for this Metro-4 in Thane too has remained an issue and there is little progress.
Explaining the same, there was 216 hectares of government land that was available but 67 farmers were given parts of this land. Over the years, the MMRDA alleged that, almost 200 hectares of this land have been wrongly acquired and there is no documentation of who owns what.
There was another land in Thane where there was a need for trees to be cut and the locals backed by political parties and builder lobbies opposed it. “We only need 40 hectares of land but there are issues in procuring them,” said another MMRDA official.
Finally there is the 43 hectares of land at Kanjurmarg which is under contention and opposition as well. The Bombay High Court is yet to decide whether the salt pan land in Kanjurmarg, where the Metro depot has been proposed, belongs to the Centre or state. Earlier in March, the Maharashtra government issued a notification to modify the reservation in the Development Plan (DP) 2034 for Metro car depot and casting yard. Apart from this, the crashed land identified at Rajmurdhe in Bhayandar for Dahisar-Mira Bhayandar Metro 9 corridor is also under scrutiny.