Former minister Aaditya Thackeray on Sunday made a request to the Eknath Shinde government on the controversial Metro car shed project in Mumbai.
“I humbly urge new government to reconsider its decision. Don’t cast the hate for us, on to our beloved Mumbai,” he said in a tweet on Sunday, adding that he would be “missing out on the protest for Aarey forest and the MMRCL land” as he had to attend the sitting of the Legislative Assembly for the Speaker’s election, which saw the victory of BJP’s pick for the post Rahul Narwekar.
This comes after Uddhav Thackeray, Aaditya Thackeray’s father, said he was “very upset” and urged the government not to reverse the Metro car shed plan.
Aaditya Thackeray stated that protecting the Aarey forest, which many refer to as Mumbai’s green lung, was about more than just protecting the 2,700 trees; it was also about protecting Mumbai’s biodiversity.
Leopards and other smaller species are regularly spotted in and around the car shed area, said Aaditya, adding that the state was proud to have designated over 800 acres as forest around it.
He went on to say that the project “destroys our Mumbai’s Aarey Forest” and goes against sustainable development and better city planning. “We’re staying here rather than being handed over a poorly planned project,” he explained.
Environmentalists are gearing up for another round of battle over the Metro-3 car shed project, which the new Eknath Shinde-led government in Maharashtra has proposed to move back to Mumbai’s Aarey forest, an 1,800 acre area which is often termed as the city’s ‘green lung’.
Apart from leopards, some 300 different varieties of flora and fauna are found in the Aarey forest, located in suburban Goregaon and adjacent to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. According to environment activists, the forest not only provides fresh air to people of the city, but it 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, they say.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently directed 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.
In 2014, the Metro-3 car shed was first proposed at Aarey by then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, which was challenged by local NGO Vanshakti in the Bombay High Court, with a plea to prevent 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.
On Thursday evening, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Fadnavis, in their first cabinet meeting held hours after coming to power, overturned the previous Thackeray-led government’s decision. 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.
With inputs from PTI