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    Environmentalists protest newly-formed Maharashtra govt's decision to shift back Metro car shed to Aarey

    Environmentalists protest newly-formed Maharashtra govt's decision to shift back Metro car shed to Aarey

    Environmentalists protest newly-formed Maharashtra govt's decision to shift back Metro car shed to Aarey
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Updated)

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    Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently directed the state Advocate General and the administration to submit a proposal on building the car shed in Aarey Colony, instead of Kanjurmarg which was chosen by the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led state government. Green activists gathered to protest against the newly-formed government's decision. Here is what, activists and authorities have to say -

    Citizens and environmentalists gather at Aarey Colony in Goregaon to protest against the newly-formed Shiv Sena-BJP government's directive to shift the Metro car shed back to the Aarey forest, which is often termed as the city's 'green lungs'.
    Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently directed the state Advocate General and the administration to submit a proposal on building the car shed in Aarey Colony, instead of Kanjurmarg which was chosen by the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led state government.
    After Monday's state assembly meeting, Fadnavis said the Aarey issue was "half-genuine and half-sponsored." He said the work was paused after 25 percent of it had been completed and the cost had already escalated by Rs10,000 crore. He said more the project was delayed, the more the cost would escalate. He said this was the only solution to the congestion in Mumbai.
    There are various Metro lines at different construction stages, but the Metro 3 car shed is crucial, mainly because it connects the western suburbs with the two major industrial hubs in Mumbai — the Bandra Kurla Complex and SEEPZ.
    Don't cast the hate for us on our beloved Mumbai: Aaditya Thackeray
    Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray took to Twitter to inform that he would be missing out on the Aarey protest as he would be attending the state legislative meeting. He urged the new government to reconsider its decision of moving the Metro car shed back to Aarey. "Don't cast the hate for us, on to our beloved Mumbai," he said in a tweet.
    "Aarey isn’t only about 2700+ trees, it is about it’s biodiversity that we are seeking to protect in our Mumbai. There are daily sightings of leopards and other smaller species in the carshed spot and around it. We’re proud of declaring more than 800 acres as forest around it," he said, as part of a series of tweets.
    He said while the former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had stayed the Metro car shed work, the work on Line 3 was carried on. Aaditya said that the alternate location of Kanjurmarg, which is disputed by the Indian government, would fit in depots for Metro lines 3,4,6,14 into one space, thereby saving cost as well as time.
    He further explained that Line 6 would anyway need a car shed, which would be either at Kanjurmarg (which is said was originally thought of in 2018) or at Pahadi Goregaon. "Having studied both, both are feasible for Line 3 too," his tweet said, adding that the Metros don't go to the car shed after every trip and that they need stabilising lines, which are missing for Line 3.
    "This is about sustainable development and better planning. This is about Mumbai’s development and we staying here instead of being handed over a badly planned project that destroys our Mumbai’s Aarey Forest," Aaditya said as he concluded the Twitter thread.
    According to environmental activists, the forest not only provides fresh air to the people of the city but is also a key habitat for the wildlife, including some endemic species. The forest has some five lakh trees, and also has a couple of rivers and some lakes flowing through it, the activists have said.
    The controversy
    In 2014, the Metro 3 car shed was first proposed at Aarey by then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, which was challenged by a local NGO Vanshakti in the Bombay High Court, with a plea to prevent the cutting of trees in the area. Fadnavis, who succeeded Chavan, went ahead with the same site.
    But, green activists had vehemently opposed the cutting of trees in Aarey for the car shed. After the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance came to power in 2019, the then CM Uddhav Thackeray reversed the decision, shifting the Metro-3 car shed to a site in the Kanjurmarg eastern suburb, but it was embroiled in a legal dispute.
    The Thackeray government had also declared Aarey as a reserved forest.
    900 days wasted
    An official from the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) said nearly 900 days have been wasted in litigations and no construction has taken place, either at the Kanjurmarg site or in Aarey. "This clearly means it would take at least three years to complete the Metro 3 car shed at the Aarey site if everything goes smooth with the new government," he said.
    The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd, which oversees the 33.5 km Metro-3 project, has already spent over Rs 19,000 crore in tunnelling, civil works, station work and track-laying. About 23 percent of the construction work was completed at Aarey (before work was stayed there), while no work took place at the Kanjurmarg site, said an official from the MMRCL.
    Crucial habitat for wildlife, says NGO
    The NGO Vanshakti's D Stalin, who is at the forefront of opposing the car shed on the Aarey land, said, "It is not just the car shed that is going to come at the Aarey land. There is a solid chance of real estate players foraying as well. It will destroy the Aarey forest land forever."
    Stalin said the importance of the Aarey forest is not just because it provides fresh air, reduces temperature and pollution and helps hold groundwater in the city. "It also provides a crucial habitat for the wildlife and is home to some endemic species, flora and fauna not found anywhere else. It is also home to two rivers, three lakes and five lakh trees. Why should we disturb it?" he said.
    With PTI inputs
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