- This has opened an easy way for corporates to procure prior environmental clearances, but the chances of non-compliance to the environmental commitments are now high.
Hundreds of activists, environmentalists and supporters of Save Aarey movement were jubilant on Sunday after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced the decision to shift the controversial Metro Car Shed from Aarey in western suburbs of Mumbai to Kanjurmarg in the eastern suburbs. It was a victory of their relentless efforts to save the jungle in the heart of the country’s financial capital. It was also a moment of success for the people’s movement that effectively connected masses across globe and changed the face of public agitation in an innovative way.
In a direct communication via Facebook live, CM Thackeray made the announcement saying, “We have taken a decision. Aarey metro car shed will now take place in Kanjurmarg. I also want to clear here that the land in Kanjurmarg is with the state government. So, we will give the land to the metro corporation free of cost.”
The CM also added that Rs 100 crore has been spent on the metro car shed building work at Aarey. “We will use this building for some good purpose. At the same time, tunnels of Metro Line 3 and Metro Line 6 will be joined. We will see that not a single penny goes to waste from the project,” said Thackeray. The agreement was signed by him on Saturday evening. The local news channels also showed that work regarding new car shed has already started at Kanjurmarg.
The decision to declare Aarey as a forest was taken on Septmeber 1 in a special meeting in presence of Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRCL) officers. The government declared 600 acres of land as forest, using state power under The Indian Forest Act, 1927. Now the area of forest has been increased from 600 acres to 800 acres. This decision is also protects the rights of tribals in Aarey.
The issue of Aarey had become a major controversy in October, 2019. Just before the Assembly elections in the state, the action of cutting more than 2,000 trees by MMRCL in Aarey had kicked widespread anger among people. Shiv Sena was then in an alliance with the BJP. At that time, BJP had supported the decision of cutting trees and said that the action is necessary for development of the city. However, Shiv Sena had strongly opposed it.
Even on Sunday, the BJP continued to attack the Shiv Sena for the decision to shift the metro car shed. BJP’s former MP and leader Kirti Somaiyya said that this decision is not financially right and ultimately metro will have to bear the losses.
“Aarey car shed Shifting to Kanjur will cost additional Rs 5,000 crore cost 5 year project delay 8km additional daily for every train to park, daily additional operation cost & where is land? Marsh Land? Or the Disputed Land which High court had asked Government deposit ₹2000 crore?,” Somaiyya wrote on Twitter.
This article first appeared on Newsclick on 12th Oct.