MUMBAI: For Mumbai Metro 6, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has raised a request for an additional 29,869 sq ft of land. The state-government controlled Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation has already taken away 82 hectares of Aarey – equivalent to nine Oval maidans – for an administrative building, a casting yard, and a car shed for Cuffe Parade-Seepz Metro 3.
The MMRDA wants the land for a site office, a labour camp and
a casting yard for the Andheri-Kanjurmarg
The latest request from MMRDA is in line with environment activists’ fears that land for the Metro 3 card shed, granted in 2014 in the face of widespread protests, was just the beginning of the end of Aarey.
An activist said that there will be requests for more land. And before it is known the whole of Aarey will be gone.
A letter written by MMRDA Additional Commissioner Sonia Sethi to the Dairy Development Secretary Anoop Kumar on July 3 says that since Metro lines have been declared “priority projects” by the state government, the land will have to be transferred urgently.
Though the letter says the 29,869 sq ft land near the
Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link road is being acquired on a temporary basis, at
another place it says land acquisition for the project is being carried out on
“both temporary and permanent basis.”
Sethi did not respond to questions sent to her by this newspaper, while Project Manager D K Sharma said he was in no position to comment. Secretary, Dairy Development, Anoop Kumar, described the letter as an “internal communication” and refused comment.
MMRDA’s decision to cut 2,702 Aarey trees to make way for a card shed for Metro 3 has led to protests across the city. The cutting of trees was approved by BMC’s Tree Authority without any debate last week, leading to two tree experts’ resignations.
Green activist Zoru Bhathena, who moved the Bombay High Court against the plan to cut trees at Aarey, said the MMRDA’s demand for more land has not come as a surprise to him. He said that it is this government’s game plan to develop Aarey as the next BKC.
Amrita Bhattacharjee, who has been at the forefront of the Save Aarey campaign, said a mode of transport cannot be developed at the cost of the environment. She said that the government must stop further destruction of city’s natural holding ponds. In a coastal city, these holding ponds play a vital role in preventing flooding in heavy rains.
A senior Aarey colony officer said it is still not clear which land parcel MMRDA wants. He said that they have received this letter from their superiors about three weeks back. MMDRA has been called in for a joint inspection of land but they did not turn up.
The 14.47 km Lokhandwala-Jogeshwari-Vikhroli-Kanjurmarg Metro 6 corridor will have 13 stations and cost Rs 6,672 crores. It is to be an elevated corridor.
Source: ET Realty