Half genuine, half sponsored: Devendra Fadnavis on protests against Aarey car shed

Updated on Jul 03, 2022 06:52 PM IST

Environmental activists and leaders of political parties, including the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), have begun staging protests at the Aarey Colony against the proposal to build a Metro-3 car shed.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis(ANI)
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis(ANI)

Days after the controversial Metro car shed project at Mumbai's Aarey forest was revived by the newly formed Eknath Shinde government in Maharashtra, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the issue is ‘half genuine and half sponsored’, calling it the only solution to Mumbai's congestion.

The project, severely criticised by environmental activists, had been stalled by the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government that collapsed this week following a rebellion by party MLAs, led by Eknath Shinde.

“Aarey issue is half genuine and half sponsored. Work was paused after 25 per cent of it had been completed. The cost has already been escalated by 10,000 crore. More the delay, the more the cost escalates. This is the only solution to Mumbai's congestion,” Fadnavis told reporters.

Earlier in the day, environmental activists and leaders of political parties, including the Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), staged a protest at the Aarey Colony, a green belt in suburban Goregaon referred to as Mumbai's lungs, against the proposal to build a Metro-3 car shed.

In 2014, the Metro-3 car shed was first proposed at Aarey by then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, which was challenged by local NGO Vanshakti in the Bombay High Court, with a plea to prevent cutting of trees in the area. Fadnavis, who succeeded Chavan, went ahead with the project.

The MVA government had shifted the car shed site, which was proposed by the previous Fadnavis government, to Kanjurmarg from Aarey Colony on the ground of environment protection, but the issue got embroiled in a legal dispute.

The Thackeray government had also declared Aarey as a reserved forest.

Apart from leopards, some 300 different varieties of flora and fauna are found in the Aarey forest, located in suburban Goregaon and adjacent to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

Speaking on the latest proposal, the former chief minister said, "I am very upset. If you are angry with me, then vent out your anger, but don't stab Mumbai in the heart. I am very upset that the Aarey decision has been overturned. This is not personal property."

“Aarey isn’t only about 2700+ trees, it is about it’s biodiversity that we are seeking to protect in our Mumbai,” said his son and Shiv Sena leader, Aaditya Thackeray.

Environmentalists are now gearing up for the second round of battle to save the Aarey greens.

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