BMC Commissioner Defends Building Metro Shed in Aarey Colony

BMC Chief defends the decision to have Metro 3 car shed in Aarey, and says, ‘Alternative land under court dispute.’

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As protests against the BMC’s decision to fell 2,700 trees at Mumbai’s Aarey Colony continue to intensify, the civic body has held its ground, stating that Aarey Colony is the only viable option to build the Metro 3 car shed.

In an interview to The Quint, BMC Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi stated that Metro 3 will be cutting down carbon emission by 2.68 lakh metric tonnes by transferring commuters from private to public transport.

“Of course, there are some trade-offs. On the sad side, we have to give up like 2,700 trees in a corner of Aarey Milk Colony area. So, it’s justified that many people are very concerned about the trees. In seven days of metro operations, more carbon footprint is saved by the metro operating than the entire sequestration by these 2,700 trees. So, the trade-off is generally in favour of having the mass public transportation.”
Praveen Pardeshi, BMC Commissioner 

‘Alternative Land Under Court Dispute’

While activists have been demanding other alternative sites be explored for the project, MMRCL and the BMC have argued that the project is viable only if constructed in Aarey Colony.

“The Kanjurmarg alternative was explored but unfortunately, it happened that we could not go for that alternative as that land is under some court dispute and the high court has given an order on it saying that no third-party interest should be created,” he said.

He also added that the cost of acquiring the land in Kanjurmarg would end up being about Rs 5,200 crore.

‘Coastal Reclamation Only Way to Increase Public Streets’

It’s not just Aarey Colony, the Maharashtra government’s ambitious Mumbai coastal road project too hit an unexpected roadblock in July 2019 after the Bombay High Court struck down the environmental clearances granted to the project. Defending the Coastal Road, the BMC Commissioner said that coastal reclamation is the only way to increase public streets.

“One dispute that arises is that the coastal road is a very high cost alternative but it is not true because Mumbai has only 11 percent area under public roads while a city like New York has upwards of 38 percent under roads and London as well. So, if the area under roads has to increase, we cannot demolish buildings or where people are staying. So, the only way areas under public streets can be increased is through coastal reclamation.”
Praveen Pardeshi, BMC Commissioner 

“If it is done in an environmentally benign way, for example, we have discovered that there are many materials, eco concrete, which allows marine life to come up on the site, this can be a win-win option,” he added.

Tackling Waterlogging the Japanese Way

Addressing the issue of water-logging faced by the city every monsoon, the BMC Chief said that while the civic body has been working on stopgap measures like increasing the drainage capacity of Mumbai, climate change is one of the key factors contributing to water-logging.

“We have increased the capacity of stormwater drains from 25 mm to 50 mm per hour. Despite that, due to climate change for example, the rainfall is 3000 mm this year while the average rainfall is just about 2000 mm. 30 percent excess rainfall has happened in fewer days. These are the days of climate change.” 
Praveen Pardeshi, BMC Commissioner 

Pardeshi said that the BMC is considering adopting models being followed by Japan wherein a parallel drainage system will be created for rivers to allow floodwater to be taken underground and stored in large reservoirs.

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