New committee to tap alternative site for Metro-3 car shed
After promising that the government would stay the ongoing construction work of the Metro-3 car shed at Aarey Milk Colony following his swearing-in as chief minister (CM), Uddhav Thackeray has appointed a committee to explore an alternative location for the shed. The CM has also asked for a probe into whether the felling of the 2,141 trees was per procedure. The committee has been directed to submit its report in two weeks.
The four-member committee will be headed by additional chief secretary (finance) Manoj Sounik and comprise of principal secretary (environment department) Anil Diggikar, managing director of Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation, RS Khurana (technical member) and chief conservator of forests, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Anwar Ahmed (forest expert) as members. The committee has been asked to check whether an alternative suitable site in place of Aarey is available at a reasonable cost. It has also been directed to examine whether the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) had followed due procedure while felling 2,100 trees for construction of the Metro-3 car shed.
The urban development department issued a government resolution on the matter on Wednesday. The committee is also expected to recommend measures to maintain an ecological balance and conserve flora and fauna in the vicinity while constructing the car shed.
An official from the finance department said, “The committee will also take into consideration the orders of the Supreme Court which is hearing a writ petition against the felling of the trees. The state government has filed its affidavit in the Apex court.”
While staying the construction work of the shed on November 29, Thackeray had said, “I have stayed the work of the Metro-3 car shed at Aarey... I will not tolerate killing of trees in the dead of the night. Not one leaf will be plucked from the trees. I will do whatever is necessary to stop that.”
Ahead of the Assembly elections, Shiv Sena had publicly criticised the government for the felling trees at Aarey. The party had even announced that it would declare Aarey a forest after coming to power, although the issue had not found any mention in the party’s election manifesto.
MMRC, which is implementing the Metro-3 project between Colaba and Seepz, had cut 2,141 of the 2,185 trees needed to be felled at Aarey. The action had led to a citywide uproar among the environmentalists, social activists, and citizens, with 29 protestors being arrested under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. CM Thackeray said the government would withdraw the cases and has constituted a committee to examine them.