Mumbai Metro 3: Despite NGT’s interim ban, MMRCL tests soil at Aarey Colony
Soil testing is a site investigation done before beginning construction to assess the suitability of the soil and identify vital data such as the type of soil, distance from ground water, boring level etc. to help in planning the construction.mumbai Updated: Mar 31, 2017 09:31 IST
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) on Thursday carried out a soil test at unit 19 at Aarey Colony under police protection.
The corporation made the move despite an order by the National Green Tribunal on January banning all construction activity at Aarey Colony — including construction for the Metro III project — till the final hearing.
Environmentalists alleged that MMRCL lawyers were denied permission to carry out the test during the hearing on Wednesday but they went ahead with it. Under the directives of the deputy commissioner of police of the zone, 50 police personnel protected the officials and cordoned off the area.
Soil testing is a site investigation done before beginning construction to assess the suitability of the soil and identify vital data such as the type of soil, distance from ground water, boring level etc. to help in planning the construction.
The MMRCL plans to construct a car shed for the Metro 3 project at Aarey across 33 hectares (ha) area. However, the NGT Pune bench has put a stay on any construction at the green lung until final orders are out. In June last year, petitioners NGOs Vanashakti and Aarey Conservation Group (ACG) had filed a plea seeking long-term protection of the Aarey landscape and to maintain it as a no-development zone. The final order for the matter has been scheduled on April 10.
The applicants said that they would be raising the issue in the form of a contempt application at NGT during the final hearing. “The method of using the police to intimidate citizens is deplorable,” said Stalin D, director, NGO Vanashakti. “They have already defied court orders so what was the point of taking up the matter with the NGT? We will file a contempt application before the tribunal,” he added.
Residents too were irked by the move. “MMRCL’s act clearly shows that they do not respect the law of the land. Even after a NGT judge denied permission to MMRCL lawyers thrice from carrying out the soil test, they still went ahead with it and asked for police protection,” said Aarey resident Biju Augustine. “This proves that even if NGT does not allow the construction at Aarey in its final order, MMRCL might bypass it,” he added.
Meanwhile, MMRCL officials said that soil testing is different from construction. “Before starting any construction, we have to test the soil and it is necessary developing a design. As per the Central Metro Act, of 2009, MMRCL can go anywhere, including private premises, to test the soil,” said R Ramana, executive director (planning), MMRCL. “The applicants were physically hindering the work and so we approached the police. The applicants’ claims are false.”
Officials from the Mumbai police said security was provided to avoid any untoward incidents. “As a government body, MMRCL asked for security and we provided it to protect their officials,” said Kirankumar Chavan, deputy commissioner of police, zone 12.