The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited’s plan to build a car shed and stabling lines in the city’s green lung Aarey Colony faces another hurdle.
While the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has already terminated all construction, including for the Metro III project, at the site, the state pollution control board has now said MMRCL did not take their permission to build a car-shed or stabling lines.
Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) officials told HT MMRCL had not applied for permission in the past two years. “MMRCL got environment clearances (EC) from the Union environment ministry as per the eco-senstive zone notification, but conditions of the EC need to be monitored and verified by the local pollution board,” said a senior MPCB official, requesting anonymity. “For this, the metro rail corporation needs to apply for consent from MPCB. On an average, it takes 120 days to clear such an application.”
The official said MMRCL was a ‘red category industry’ — identified by the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change as heavily polluting — and needed clearances from local authorities under the Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. On December 5, the Union environment ministry passed a final notification on the buffer zone — an area meant to protect the environment — around Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) up to 4km from its boundary. It proposed development and construction work at Aarey, which falls under the permitted eco-sensitive zone. The notification identified the exclusion of 165 hectares from Aarey where construction will be allowed, including for the Metro project. But the notification was published with a rider — that it can only be cleared subject to Supreme Court, high court and NGT orders.
MMRCL officials refused to comment in the matter. “Once the state pollution control board takes up the matter with us, we will respond. As of now, we will not comment,” said Ashwini Bhide, managing director, MMRCL.Environmentalists alleged MMRCL was violating green laws. “For two years MMRCL did not bother to comply with laws or attempt to obtain clearances. It went about blaming activists for delaying the project,” said Stalin D, director, Vanashakti. “To make matters worse, grandiose announcements are made without checking if it has all clearances.”