The indifference by the state and centre towards the long-awaited Metro, which is still awaiting land and clearances to construct the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd line, is now forcing the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to look for alternatives.
After the Centre repeatedly stalled the relaxation of environmental and CRZ laws for the construction of metro train depots at Charkop and Mankhurd, and the unwillingness of the state government to hand over any alternate land in the vicinity, the MMRDA is now contemplating setting up the car depot at Goregaon.
“We are thinking about setting up the car depot at Goregaon near Pahadi village. We will request the state government to help us acquire the land,” a senior MMRDA official said.
The area in Pahadi is close to the Aarey Milk colony, but is privately owned. The MMRDA is planning to ask the state government for help in acquiring this 90-acre piece of land.
The first metro line as per MMRDA’s initial plans should have been functional by 2011. However, frequent delays meant that a concession agreement with Reliance Infrastructure was signed only in January 2010. Work was to begin in January 2011 but was stalled as the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the MoEF had only cleared the metro line alone without any car depot claiming that it was not permissible under the CRZ notification of 1991.
After much cajoling, the committee, in September 2010, gave conditional clearance to the car depots saying they could be built with a covering shed and no washing or maintenance of rakes could be carried out.
MMRDA officials and Reliance said the clause of not allowing any washing or maintenance of rakes defeats the purpose of a depot. Officials need the land to park the metro rakes and to carry out maintenance work.
The Centre, however, has been unwilling to accommodate these considerations.
The troubled MMRDA has subsequently made requests to the state government for handing over of alternative land in the vicinity.
The state government has, however, still not taken any decision in this regard.
MMRDA officials said this approach would ensure the Metro got delayed for a long time. “This treatment of Mumbai is unacceptable. The state and Centre need to realise that they are stalling a move which will help lakhs of Mumbaiites who travel in abject conditions,” the official said.