Green warriors welcome CM’s red signal for Metro 3 car shed

Long-drawn struggle: People march in support of the Save Aarey movement, which has been fighting for the protection of the forest area for the past five years.

Long-drawn struggle: People march in support of the Save Aarey movement, which has been fighting for the protection of the forest area for the past five years.   | Photo Credit: Aadesh Choudhary


Environmentalist refutes MMRC claim of over 2,000 trees being axed on site, says plot can be restored within six months

Members of the five-year-old Save Aarey movement on Friday rejoiced on learning about Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s decision to stop the construction of a car shed for the Metro 3 project at Aarey Milk Colony.

Stalin Dayanand, director of NGO Vanashakti, who has been at the forefront of the protests and whose case to declare Aarey colony as a forest is being heard in the Supreme Court, said no movement to save forests has lasted for five years in any other city in the world.

‘Sensitive government’

He said, “I am very happy today. This government has been sensitive. Uddhav Thackeray and Aaditya Thackeray both have memories of Aarey, so they know what it means to the city.”

Mr. Dayanand said all partners in the new coalition government in the State are on the same page as far as Aarey is concerned.

NCP leader Supriya Sule, who has lent support to the movement, thanked the government for its decision. “Whilst we are all supportive on developmental issues, the same cannot be done at the cost of the environment. (sic),” Ms. Sule tweeted.

On October 4, the car shed site witnessed a massive protest after the first batch of trees was axed after the Bombay High Court lifted a stay on tree cutting. Following the agitation, 29 protesters were arrested and a curfew was imposed in Aarey colony for three days. After the curfew was lifted, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), which is executing the project, issued a statement saying that 2,141 of the 2,185 trees that had to be cut to make way for the project had been axed.

However, Mr. Dayanand refuted the claim. He said no more than 350 trees have been cut on the site. “By and large, the plot is still intact and the damage is minimal. We can restore it in six months,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Thackeray’s decision may have an impact on the delivery and the cost of the project. Sources said the project incurs a loss of nearly ₹4.3 crore each day that it is delayed.

The completion cost of the project is pegged at ₹23,136 crore, which is being partly funded by a loan worth ₹13,325 crore from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency. The project is also receiving funds from the Central government. The MMRC is a joint venture company of the Central and State governments.

Attempt to meet deadline

Though work on the car shed began in September 2017, it has been embroiled in litigation. Sources said nearly 25% of the construction has been completed as the car shed needs to be ready by November 2020, when the first set of Metro rakes are expected to be delivered.

With an aim to meet the deadline, other work on the site has progressed well. Nearly 70% of the tunnelling for Metro 3 has also been completed. However, without the car shed, the Metro corridor cannot be commissioned as there needs to be a space to park and maintain the rakes.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 5:54:09 AM |

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