Mumbai: he state government has decided to hand over three hectares of land at Aarey Colony to Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) for the Metro-III project. Sources said this makes it clear that the government has decided the Metro-III car shed will come up at Aarey Colony, a move being strongly opposed by citizens who say it will disturb the area’s eco-system. However, the project was dealt a major blow in the BMC, where the Shiv Sena teamed up with the Congress to reject handing over of 17 civic plots crucial to the project.
In a government resolution on Wednesday, the agriculture, animal husbandry and dairy development department said it was handing over three hectares of land to the MMRC, the executing agency of Metro-III, to construct a car depot workshop and commercial use. “The handover of this land has been done, but the National Green Tribunal order on Aarey Colony, to preserve the eco-sensitive zone, should be kept in mind when using it and right to change reservation of the land for commercial use will remain with the urban development department,” says the GR. MMRC managing director Ashwini Bhide was unavailable for comment.
Meanwhile, the Bombay High Court deferred a petition against the car shed at Aarey after a judge recused himself in the matter on Wednesday.
But a proposal to hand over 17 BMC plots to the MMRC was rejected by the civic house, where the Sena has a majority, despite the BJP favouring it. While sources said this was a clear indication of the Sena-BJP bickering ahead of the civic polls, it has delayed the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro project for at least three months. “We will try to take possession of these plots by invoking the Metro Act in a worst-case scenario. However, a notification for this purpose will have to be issued by the ministry of urban development,” said an official.
In January, the civic improvements committee passed an MMRC proposal which said 0.78 hectares of land parcels are required from the civic body on a permanent basis and 5.39 hectares would be required on a temporary basis for Metro-III. Land sought from the BMC on permanent basis was required for construction of ventilation shafts, entry/exit canopies, electric sub-stations and fire exits for the project.
Trushna Vishwasrao, Sena leader in the BMC, said, “Several important plots are being sought and they should give alternate spots in return. Many of the plots where work would go on are underground and this would have an impact, especially on dilapidated buildings.”
An MMRC official said, “This will not affect the timeline of the project as bids for civil work are not yet finalized. In any case, work on the ground is expected to begin only after monsoon. We are hopeful by that time the issue would be resolved.”