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Work at Aarey Milk Colony in Mumbai defies courts, says NGO; Metro body refutes charges

“We are not carrying out any activities at Aarey that are stayed by court,” said an MMRCL spokesperson.

mumbai Updated: Aug 17, 2018 00:09 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
This pic was part of NGO’s legal notice sent to MMRCL.

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) has been accused of violating the Supreme Court (SC) and National Green Tribunal (NGT) orders restraining it from constructing a car shed for the Metro-3 line in Aarey Milk Colony, Goregaon.

MMRCL has denied the allegations. “We are not carrying out any activities at Aarey that are stayed by court,” said an MMRCL spokesperson.

Environmental group Vanashakti, which had filed petitions seeking an alternative location to the car shed, has issued a legal notice to MMRCL managing director Ashwini Bhide, director (projects) SK Gupta and chief project manager Charuhas Jadhav. Vanashakti said MMRCL had resumed landfilling and constructing pillars at Aarey Colony on Thursday evening, defying SC and NGT orders to maintain the status quo.

“This act amounts to wilful and deliberate contempt of the tribunal’s orders,” read the notice undersigned by Zaman Ali, advocate to the applicants.

The notice asked MMRCL to restore the land back to its original status or face contempt proceedings. “The purpose of court orders is to ensure that there is no change in the status quo. It is shameful to call them a company that represents Mumbai’s public interest,” Ali said.

Meanwhile MMRCL’s counsel disputed the claim by Vanashakti. “The applicants had filed a civil application in NGT. They had to stop construction or any other activity at Aarey. The court had restrained us from carrying out three activities— debris dumping, reclamation and tree felling. However, there is no restriction on construction,” said advocate Kiran Bhagalia, counsel for MMRCL.

Stalin D, director, Vanashakti said, “We are shocked to see brazen violations. Toilets have been built, land filled and boundary made of concrete pillars built. The terrain has completely changed. After constructing boundary walls, the entire work is being carried out hidden from public view,” he said.

On August 19, 2015, the western bench of NGT in Pune passed an order to maintain status quo on construction ban at Aarey Colony. “The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the director of Aarey Colony and chief conservator of forest, SGNP, shall … keep status till further orders are passed in this application,” read the  order. The principal bench of NGT in Delhi and SC upheld the status quo order on May 14 and August 6. Chanda Jadhav, P-South ward officer, said BMC would not intervene in the dispute because the land belongs to MMRCL.

Nathu Rathod, chief executive officer, Aarey dairy administration, said they could not take action against MMRCL because of no violations.

First Published: Aug 17, 2018 00:07 IST