With political and public pressure looming large over the proposed Metro depot in Aarey Colony, the state government has started exploring the possibility of shifting the depot of Metro 3 further north to Royal Palms, whose owner offered 30 to 60 acres of land in July 2015.
“We have asked the general consultant (GC) to check if a depot is feasible in the Royal Palms and the alignment of the Metro line can be extended to the Royal Palms, which is around 2km from the Aarey Colony. The findings of the study will be shared with the state government,” said a source close to the development.
Although the government will be able to soothe protesters by shifting the Metro depot, it will have to pay a hefty price for it. The owners of Royal Palms — a realty firm which has about 240 acres of land adjoining Aarey Colony, where it has developed a township that has residential, commercial properties and hotels — have sought an additional FSI of 4 for the land to be used for the depot.
“In return, we would request you to allot us 4 additional to the normal FSI on our land as is allowed by the BMC under the parking policy,” reads the letter sent by Royal Palms to the state government in July 2015. No official from the Royal Palms could be reached for comment.
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation is conducting a feasibility study for the plan. The approach for an alternative depot was initiated after a few political bosses indicated that the Aarey Colony issue would not resolve anytime soon because of strong opposition from nature lovers, activists, parties, including Shiv Sena- an ally in the state government. The Central government, which is also a stakeholder in the project, is learnt to have not expressed any reservation for shifting of the depot in Royal Palms. However, it has asked the state government to bear the cost of the extension work, which is estimated to be Rs2,000 crore.
Metro 3 is a 33.5-km underground line that is planned from Colaba to Seepz. The source added that the move has been appreciated by the protesters since it leaves biodiversity in the Aarey Colony unaffected from any construction activity.