The panel said that shifting the place of the Metro car shed will only further delay and the damage has already been done and it cannot be reversed.
After a month’s research by a panel formed by Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, the committee has submitted the report saying that the Metro car shed should not be shifted now and the land around the metro
car shed should be declared a green belt and no construction should be initiated on the green belt.
The committee report shocked many environmentalists and activists who were fighting to save Aarey.
Amrita Bhattacharya, one of the petitioners and members of Aarey conversation group said, “There are still many options. The government can shift the car shed to a different place. If this is not done then Mumbai will see floods which will cost many lives.”
Maharashtra Minister Aditya Thackeray said, “We are not bound by the initial report as we have just received it and we intend to study it further. A final call is yet to be made after the government is done reading the report. This government is all up for the environment.”
The four-member panel started an enquiry. Two locations were being studied as alternative locations.
Jogeshwari was one location and the other one was Kanjurmarg. However, the government soon learnt that now shifting the Aarey car shed will increase the cost of the project other than creating logistics problems along with stretching the time of project completion.
But the committee has found merit in the argument that increased construction activity inside the Aarey Milk Colony — one of the last vestiges of green spaces in Mumbai — was impacting the rich flora and fauna in the region. Therefore, it has recommended that the state government should notify the unbuilt green areas inside the colony as a no-construction belt, preserving it like a protected forest.
Talking about the solution Bhattacharya said, “If we leave the place as it is, the forest will come up again. Mud should be removed for the catchment area. Right now, in Mumbai, many FOBs [foot over bridges] are being demolished, is that not wastage of money and time? There was land in Kalina and BKC [Bandra Kurla Complex], why not think to build car shed there?”
On November 29, last year, a day after being sworn in as the CM, Uddhav had stayed the car shed construction work, and dropped cases filed by the police against 29 protesters.
The panel has also argued for the lifting of the stay on the fait accompli principle, contending that MMRCL did not plan to fell any more trees at the site. It has reportedly argued that the damage that the project could have inflicted on the green has already been done.