The Maharashtra government seems to be determined to go ahead with the Metro 3 car shed project at Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon (East).
In a bid to counter the arguments over the project’s effects on the ecology, minister of state for urban development Ranjit Patil laid out an entire plan for tree-transplantation in the state assembly on Friday, adding that any change in alignment would cost the state exchequer an additional amount of Rs1,000 crore.
He also said the government may construct two towers at Nariman Point — in the area where political party offices are currently housed — to accommodate residents who might be displaced in Colaba and Girgaum.
This testimonial by Patil raises a question over the government’s intention to appoint an expert committee to study the project and weigh the different options to shift the car shed from Aarey. It also comes a day after chief minister Devendra Fadnavis declared the committee is considering various alternatives.
Several citizens groups and political parties, including the Shiv Sena and the MNS, have been protesting against large-scale tree cutting at Aarey for the car shed.
“We have earmarked 30 hectares of land at Aarey for the car depot. Out of the 2,298 trees that will be uprooted, we will cut 254 trees, while the rest will be transplanted. The success rate of replantation is 80%. For now, shifting the car shed’s alignment will cost the state more than Rs1,000 crore additionally. If needed, we will plant 10 times the number of trees that will be uprooted,” said Patil, while replying to a calling attention motion raised by Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil.
Vikhe-Patil leader asked the minister if they had conducted impact assessments and studies, and checked the project’s environmental impact before clearing it.
“The metro will be passing through areas occupied by Maharashtrians, so will they be displaced? Where are alternative arrangements being made?” he said.
Patil said six studies have been conducted and during construction, each structure will be monitored for vibration and tilting on a daily basis.
He said the state will be shelling out Rs 117 crore as rental fees to occupy party offices and government departments that are currently in way of the Metro project.
Replying to BJP legislator Raj Purohit on the area to be allotted to those being rehabilitated, Patil clarified the rehabilitation scheme for this project will be implemented according to the MUTP scheme and not through the norms of the new land acquisition bill. He said all residents will be accommodated in areas close to their current homes and there are two towers that the government may construct at Nariman Point where they will be given homes.