Despite protests, work on Metro-3 depot in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony to start in July | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Despite protests, work on Metro-3 depot in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony to start in July

Mumbai city news: The depot is being constructed for the 33.5-km Metro 3 corridor. The car depot, which is considered to be the nerve centre of the Metro project, will affect 3,130 trees on the plot

mumbai Updated: Jun 30, 2017 08:39 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Citizen groups and environmentalists have fiercely opposed the move to house the depot at Aarey Colony, one of the few surviving green patches in Mumbai.
Citizen groups and environmentalists have fiercely opposed the move to house the depot at Aarey Colony, one of the few surviving green patches in Mumbai.

Brushing aside the opposition of some resident groups and environment activists, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) awarded the contract for the Metro 3 depot at Aarey Colony on Thursday. The MMRC awarded the Rs328-crore contract to M/s Sam (India) Builtwell Pvt Ltd to build a depot on a 25-hectare plot at Parajapur village in Aarey Colony.

The depot is being constructed for the 33.5-km Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ Metro 3 corridor. The car depot, which is considered to be the nerve centre of the Metro project, will affect 3,130 trees on the plot. Construction is expected to begin next month.

Citizen groups and environmentalists have fiercely opposed the move to house the depot at Aarey Colony, one of the few surviving green patches in Mumbai. A citizen group had even challenged the move in the National Green Tribunal, seeking relief to keep the land use of Aarey Colony as a no-development zone. Environmentalists also stated construction would destroy the green patch and impact its rich biodiversity. The Shiv Sena, ally of the ruling BJP, has also opposed the depot.

“We have done a survey and 3,130 trees will be affected. Now, how many will be cut and how many will be transplanted, is subject to approval from the Tree Authority,” said SK Gupta, director projects and acting managing director, MMRC, a corporation set up by the state government to build the Metro 3 project.

Meanwhile, environment activists are confident work on the plot will not start because there is a stay order by NGT on commencement of work. “We are sure that the number of trees affected by the depot will be more than 3,130. They (MMRC) has not given an accurate picture. However, they cannot start work because there’s a stay order,” said Zoru Bhathena, one of the petitioners fighting to save the trees.

The MMRC maintained there was no stay on the depot construction at Aarey Colony. A senior MMRC official said they had sought the opinion of the advocate general before starting the bidding process. “There was never a stay; the original petition in NGT was about the eco-sensitive zone. The actions, which the petitioners demanded, have been taken by the government,” the official said.

MMRC officials said they have tweaked the design of the proposed depot to minimise the number of trees that would be affected. The new design would save 1,073 trees within the plot where the depot will be built. “Out of the 30 hectares, 3 hectares will be used for the main line and (Aarey) station. We have not touched a patch within the contiguous plot which has a dense tree cover. It is a 5 hectare patch,” Gupta said.

M/s Sam (India) Builtwell Pvt Ltd, the Delhi-based firm that bagged the contract, has previous experience of construction of such depot for Delhi and Lucknow Metro projects. Gupta said construction will begin by next month and will be completed in 30 months.