Metro car shed at Aarey to be shifted, cases against protesters withdrawn: Uddhav Thackeray

By: Express Web Desk | Mumbai | Updated: October 11, 2020 3:55:26 pm

Aarey protestsMassive protests ensued overnight against the late-night felling of trees by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) on October 25 last year

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday announced the relocation of the metro car shed project in Aarey, which has been at the centre of a storm since October last year, and also said that cases against activists who protested against the felling of trees for the project had been withdrawn.

Addressing the state through a webcast, Thackeray said the project would now be shifted to a government land in Kanjurmarg. “The Aarey car shed will be moved to Kanjurmarg. We have allotted government land for the car shed for Rs 0. We won’t spend a single rupee for acquiring this land,” he said.

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) had begun chopping trees at Aarey colony on October 25 last year to construct a car shed for the Rs 32,000 crore underground Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro corridor. Several activists, who had gathered at the spot to protest, were detained by the police. An FIR was registered against 29 people. After he was sworn in as Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray had put a stay on the work on the car shed.

"Aarey, aarey protests, aarey sc hearing, aarey tree cutting, aarey car shed, aarey tree felling, mumbai aarey colony, bmc, shiv sena, bjp The Aarey forest area in Mumbai after 2,134 trees were cut. (Express photo)

Thackeray said also said the Home department had withdrawn cases registered against citizens and environmentalists who protested against the Aarey project last year.

“Before the assembly elections, we had opposed it. There were protests, trees were cut at night, protestors were arrested. Govt has decided to withdraw offences registered against them,” the Shiv Sena supremo said.

Explained: Why has Uddhav Thackeray decided to create a reserved forest inside Mumbai?

Thackeray said the building that had come up in Aarey forest would be utilised for some other public purpose. “About Rs 100 crore expenditure was incurred for the purpose and it won’t go waste,” he said.

Protests broke out last year over the felling of over 2,000 trees to make way for the Metro car shed in Aarey Colony (Express photo)

More than 800 acres of Aarey land, adjacent to Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), has already been declared as reserve forest — 200 acres more than the 600 acres proposed earlier. According to the provisions of the Indian Forest Act, 1927, once this area is declared as reserve forest, the land becomes unavailable for development.

“There will be no infringement on rights of tribals in the Aarey forest,” he added. “Biodiversity in Aarey needs to be to conserved and protected. Nowhere is there an 800-acre jungle in an urban set up. Mumbai has a natural forest cover,” he said.

Aaditya Thackeray, who has vociferously protested against the proposed car shed, tweeted, “Aarey Saved”. Former chief minister and Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis recently said the state government’s plan to relocate Metro 3 car shed from Aarey was a reflection of wrong policy.

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