In 1st Cabinet Meet, Shinde-Fadnavis Order Shifting of Metro Shed Back to Aarey
The new Cabinet overturned key decisions of former CM Uddhav Thackeray, soon after Shinde and Fadnavis took oath.
Soon after Eknath Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister of Maharashtra following protracted tumult in the state's politics, the new Cabinet in its first meeting held on Thursday, 30 June, overturned some key decisions of former CM Uddhav Thackeray, including the shifting of the controversial metro 3 car shed out of the Aarey Milk colony.
Bharatiya Janata Party's Devendra Fadnavis, the new deputy chief minister, directed the advocate general to file a proposal on the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz metro car shed being built in Mumbai's Aarey colony itself, according to reports.
After taking over as chief minister in 2019, Uddhav Thackeray had stayed the construction of the metro 3 corridor and appointed a committee to look for alternative plots, after protests against tree felling and violation of Adivasi rights.
'Don't Project Anger for Me On Mumbaikars': Thackeray
Thackeray, however, slammed the move, saying, "Don't project anger for me on Mumbaikars. Don't change the proposal for the metro shed. Don't toy with the environment of Mumbai."
On the other hand, Fadnavis said that the new government would take an "appropriate decision," keeping in mind "Uddhav Thackeray's respect and the best interest of Mumbaikars," news agency ANI reported.
What's Stalling the Metro Project?
At the Cabinet meeting, officials from the Urban Development Department said that the matter was pending in court and will be taken up after 15 days. The state's advocate general was also asked how the project could be shifted to the Aarey Colony since the MVA government had proposed it to be moved to Kanjurmarg and designated Aarey Colony as a reserve forest.
Fadnavis informed the officials that the 33-km-long Colaba-Bandra-Seepz underground metro project was getting delayed due to the court case, PTI reported.
Meanwhile, BJP leader Kirit Somiya took to Twitter to appreciate the decision of the new Cabinet. "Shinde Fadnavis Govt decision to bring back MetroCar Shed at Aarey will put Mumbai Metro work back on Track," he wrote.
However, National Congress Party (NCP) leader Clyde Crasto slammed the move as being destructive for the environment.
"With so many important issues that need to be looked into in Maharashtra, what does the new Dy. CM Devendra Fadnavis do? He proposes to move Metro car shed back to Aarey. Re-creating a problem solved by MVA Govt. Green lung of Mumbai in danger once again. What will he gain?" he said on Twitter.
Further, the new Cabinet is also reported to have sanctioned the restart of the Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan, the flagship water conservation scheme initiated under the Fadnavis government.
Thackeray had stayed the scheme and had initiated an investigation into the alleged financial irregularities in the project.
The Aarey Colony Controversy
Following months of protests from local communities and environmentalists, the then CM Thackeray in October 2020 had announced that the controversial metro car shed is being shifted from Aarey Colony to Kanjurmarg, where “the land will be available at zero rate.”
The building that had already been constructed at Aarey, at a cost of Rs 100 crore, will be used for some other purpose, he had added.
Fadnavis had criticised the decision, saying it would lead to an escalation of costs and delays in the project. He had maintained that the metro project would help mitigate the carbon footprint and would ultimately benefit the environment.
Under the preceding Fadnavis government, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation had announced its plan to cut down over 2,700 trees from the green colony in order to build a car shed for the metro.
In 2020, the BJP-led government at the Centre had moved the Bombay High Court, saying that the land belonged to its salt department, following which the project had been stayed.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI.)
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