Metro car shed: Maharashtra government had marked other plots too, but MMRC insisted on Aarey
Documents accessed through a right-to-information (RTI) query revealed that alternate locations in the city had been identified for the construction of a car shed for the Metro-3 project. However, metro authorities decided to stick to Aarey.
Environmentalists from NGO Vanshakti wrote to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday alleging that the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation’s (MMRC) intention to build a car shed for Metro-3 (Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ), spread across 30 hectares at Aarey, was with an intention to open up the area for real estate development.
The NGO submitted two documents — a government resolution (GR) from 2010 that showed that the state had handed over land at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse, for the car shed and the 1991 development plan, currently in force, designated reservation of land at Backbay in south Mumbai.
“MMRDA had requested the state to modify the existing land use at the racecourse nd reserve it for a Metro car depot’. However, owing to the very high cost of construction, maintenance of an underground car depot, existing stabling lines required to adopt stipulated procedure for construction to ensure their reinstatement, this land was found unsuitable,” read a March 2012 letter, adding that the alternative location would be a ‘vacant land’ at Aarey Milk Colony as most suitable.
Over the past three years, environmentalists have been at loggerheads with the MMRC, regarding the construction of a car shed at Aarey, which the former considers a forest. While activists said they are not against the metro, they do not want the no-development zone tag to be removed from Aarey and opened up for construction.
Members of Vanashakti said when two options were already there for the car shed, there was no need to acquire land at Aarey. The need for depot land could also be met at Kalina, Bandra Kurla Complex, Kanjurmarg, Sariput Nagar, Mumbai Port Trust land as well, the NGO said.
“Horse racing is not as important as having pure air to breathe. We wrote to the CM highlight that he had promised us that only 350 trees would be hacked in Aarey but the car shed construction now comes with the loss of 3,400 full grown trees at this forest,” said Stalin D, director, NGO Vanashakti. “Real estate profit making is the only reason for coming into Aarey.”
While MMRC refused to comment since the NGO’s letter was addressed to the CM. On Monday, MMRC published an advertisement in daily newspapers highlighting details about the car shed at Aarey. “State government had handed over the 30 ha land required for the car depot in Aarey on August 22, 2014. On December 30, 2016, the state approved to adopt modified option of car depot at Aarey in 5 ha green cover is retained,” the details read.