Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has scrapped the construction of a metro car shed at Aarey forest and shifted the project to Kanjurmarg, a month after declaring over 800 acres of Aarey Milk Colony a reserved forest. Thackeray said that development had to be reconsidered with a focus on ecology, climate change, and rise in temperature. “We need to take a relook at the development we want,” he said.
“Biodiversity in Aarey needs to be conserved and protected. Nowhere in the world there is an 800-acre jungle in the heart of a city,” the Chief Minister said.
His son, Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray, expressed a similar sentiment in his tweet.
Aarey saved- Thread.
We’ve received some of the best news for environment today for the entire year.
1)All charges against the satyagrahis protesting to save Aarey will be dropped.
They protested to save a forest, that wasn’t identified formally as one, but always one (1/n)
— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) October 11, 2020
CM Thackeray further said that the government approved the merger of two metros, the underground Metro 3 for Colaba-Bandra-Seepz and the overground Metro 6 for Vikhroli-Lokhandwala, with a common car shed on 41 hectares in Kanjurmarg. Further, he assured that the near Rs. 100 crore spent on construction and the building standing at the site will be put to good use so that money is not wasted.
Moreover, he said government land in Kanjurmarg would be given free of cost. Meanwhile, construction of an electric substation and a tunnel that connects Metro 3 and Metro 6 would be done at Aarey.
Additionally, the Cabinet decided to take back the cases registered against protesters who had denounced the Aarey project and the felling of trees.
The Kanjurmarg announcement surprised the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) who had been asked to undertake a feasibility study for the Goregaon Pahadi site one of the two alternative sites shortlisted by the state government.
“This was exactly what was suggested in 2015 but rather than implementing it at that time, the government circulated false stories of the land parcel at Kanjurmarg being under litigation. This 41-hectares land is free of any encroachment or litigation and is in government’s possession,” Zoru Bhathena, an environmental activist told the Times of India.
The Kanjurmarg land along the Eastern Express Highway, is currently used for cultivation. On October 11, officials began soil testing and barricading of the area. Although the land comes under CRZ, the area has no mangroves, activists said. Moreover, they said there was a plan to merge Metro 3 and 6 in October 2015 as well.
Bhathena thanked the government and called the decision a “miracle.”
“We were never against the metro line or anti-development but were fighting to save a green lung,” he said.
The news has brought much joy to the forest-dwellers and rights activists like Teesta Setalvad who have been fighting for the preservation of Mumbai’s lungs.
— Teesta Setalvad (@TeestaSetalvad) October 11, 2020
Aarey is blessed ??? https://t.co/EStPSE99pZ
— Zoru Bhathena (@zoru75) October 11, 2020
Thanks to all BJP Netas and their trolls for their arrogance.
Thanks to bureaucrats who didn’t cooperate.
Thanks to the police that hit/stalked us.
Thanks to the judges who didn’t care.
Everything that went against #SaveAareyForest, made us stronger.
Sorry for the trees we lost pic.twitter.com/1OqmW82rLe
— ||.AndarRaho.|| (@yashmarwah) October 11, 2020
announced that the metro 3 carshed will be relocated to #Kanjurmarg & not built at 33 hectares land at Aarey citing the ecological importance of Aarey for #Mumbai,it’s lush greenery and the biodiversity it has.#SaveAareyForest pic.twitter.com/V1dG2rvlqi
— #SaveMumbaiforest (@SaveMumbaifore1) October 11, 2020
— Dia Mirza (@deespeak) October 11, 2020
This is such great news! This demonstrates people power and how!
— Ruben Mascarenhas (@rubenmasc) October 11, 2020
However, former CM Devendra Fadnavis, who had favoured the Aarey site and whose government had subjected pro-environment protesters to police action, tweeted that the decision was taken just to satisfy someone’s ego and would lead to a cost escalation of Rs 4,000 crore.
Unfortunate decision to shift Metro CarShed from Aarey to Kanjurmarg and that too just to satisfy ego❗️
This decision will increase the cost of the project by at least ₹4000 crore and this cost escalation is assessed by the committee appointed by this Government. #Aarey
— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) October 11, 2020
He pointed out that Kanjurmarg’s marshy land would delay the project indefinitely and said the Rs 400 crore already spent on the Aarey car shed would go down the drain.
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