Kanjurmarg better than Aarey for Mumbai Metro-3 car shed, says govt panel
A nine-member committee appointed by the Maharashtra government has recommended that the car shed for Metro-3 (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) and Metro-6 (Swami Samarth Nagar-Vikhroli) be built at the plot in Kanjurmarg and not in Aarey Milk Colony. The committee was appointed on January 6 was given a month to submit its report, which it has submitted to the chief minister’s office in a record 15 days.
State chief secretary Sanjay Kumar confirmed on Thursday that the report had been submitted to the chief minister’s office. “We were given a mandate and we have submitted the report,” Kumar said.
While details from the report are yet to be released by the state, it is known that the panel has recommended the 102-acre Kanjurmarg plot, citing future expansion and integration of the Metro-3 and Metro-6 with a common car shed. A state official on condition of anonymity said, “The two committees appointed earlier had not examined future expansion. Considering Aarey is a 30-hectare (ha) plot, expansion will be tough in the future.”
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, in an address from last December, had also stated expansion would be difficult in Aarey. In November 2019, Thackeray had appointed a committee under additional chief secretary Manoj Saunik, which had said in its report that the Aarey plot was the only viable option for the car depot.
Another official from the state government said, “The Saunik committee report did not look at several aspects while recommending Aarey. Kanjurmarg is the only option for future expansion. If not today, the government will have to allocate land at Kanjurmarg in the future. In such a scenario, it is better to integrate Metro lines at one plot, for optimal utilisation of land and finances.”
However, with the Bombay High Court (HC)’s stay over the land transfer, building a car shed at Kanjurmarg will be a tough battle for the state. Also, in a letter sent to Thackeray on Thursday, former chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis had said his government approved the site in Aarey for the car depot after considering population estimates till 2053. “Between 2031-53, 13 trains of eight cars each will be dispatched in phases based on travel demand. For this, 1.5ha of the remaining 5ha will be utilised. This area has around 160 trees which will be transplanted in phases,” wrote Fadnavis in the letter. The state had said that the five-hectare plot has around 1000 trees. Fadnavis had also alleged that the recently-appointed committee was “a farce” and its report would recommend the Kanjurmarg plot.
Activist and member of the Save Aarey group Zoru Bhathena said, “The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation had stated that eventually it would require 61 hectares in Aarey for the depot. This means that more trees will have to be cut in the forest area.”