Uddhav Stops Aarey Metro Car Shed Work Day After Becoming Maha CM

Thackeray clarified that the stay was on the Aarey car shed and not on the metro project.

Updated
India
3 min read
Aarey activists attend the swearing-in ceremony of Uddhav Thackeray.
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A day after taking charge as Maharashtra chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray said on Friday, 29 November, that he has stayed the work on the Aarey metro car shed, and that not a single leaf would be cut till further notice.

Thackeray clarified that the stay was on the Aarey car shed and not on the metro project, adding that the overnight cutting of trees in Aarey was not acceptable.

“I have ordered to stop the work of Aarey metro car shed project today. Metro work will not stop but till next decision, not a single leaf of Aarey will be cut,” Thackeray said.

“All the people of Mumbai are happy with this decision. Development works will continue but the harm that was being done to the environment will be stopped,” he added.

Fadnavis Tweets Disappointment

Criticising Thackeray’s decision, BJP leader and former CM Devendra Fadnavis tweeted, “This shows State Government is not serious about Mumbai Infrastructure projects! And ultimate sufferer is common Mumbaikar only.”

While the metro rail has been a pet project of the BJP, the Sena, though in an alliance with the BJP in the earlier government, had opposed the decision to choose Aarey as the site for the metro car shed.

Mixed Reactions Among Aarey Activists

As the Shiv Sena chief took oath as the CM of Maharashtra on Thursday, Aarey activists had attended the ceremony to remind the Sena leader about the promise he had made ahead of the elections.

Activists opposing the felling of trees for the construction of the Metro car shed in Mumbai, had sought to remind Uddhav of his promise to take action against those responsible for “murdering Aarey.”

“There is no doubt that this is a result of the pressure that was built on them over time, including at the swearing-in on Thursday which Aarey activists attended with a ‘Save Aarey’ banner. A huge number of citizens, including students and adivasis, came together in order to achieve this. This is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Sahil Parsekar, Member, Aarey Conservation Group

But Anand Pendharkar, wildlife biologist at SPROUTS Environment Trust and a key member of the Aarey protests, is not celebrating just yet.

Speaking to The Quint, he said, “The government has now said that the work at Aarey will be stopped. But till a proper order to the effect is passed, I will remain skeptical of their intent. It remains lip service till they actually walk the talk.”

The Context

The BMC's Tree Authority had granted the permission to cut down more than 2,000 trees on 29 August, resulting in widespread protest and petitions challenging the felling of trees.

In the all-important meeting, where the proposal was passed, four BJP members, three experts and the lone NCP corporator on the tree authority were in favour of the tree-felling. Six Shiv Sena corporators were against the proposal. Two Congress corporators chose to boycott the vote.

Therefore, the proposal passed with eight votes in favour and six against.

The Congress and the NCP were accused of paying lip service by speaking against the tree-felling.

Worli MLA and Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray had also supported the movement and termed the felling of trees as a “shameful and disgusting” act.

However, Sena's opposition to the project had no bearing on its Assembly polls manifesto in which there was no mention of Aarey.

When asked about the Metro car shed project, Uddhav had said, "We stand by our decision to oppose the proposed car shed at Aarey Colony."

Meanwhile, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party alliance, which had released a joint manifesto, promised environment conservation and sustainable development by specifically mentioning felling of trees in Aarey Colony.

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