Mumbai (Maharashtra): Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) along with some social workers held demonstrations in the Aarey area of Mumbai on Sunday against Eknath Shinde government’s decision to resume the construction of the metro car shed at the green belt in suburban Goregaon.
AAP warned the government against the project. According to the present Maharashtra government, the project was being developed at the expense of the forest area.
The Aarey forest is a 1,800-acre area which is often termed the city’s “green lung”.
Soon after Eknath Shinde was sworn in as the new Maharashtra Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis as the Deputy Chief Minister, the state government directed the Advocate General that the metro car shed be built in Mumbai’s Aarey colony itself.
Last Sunday, Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thakeray participated in a protest against the construction of the metro car sheds in the Aarey colony forest saying that this is a fight for Mumbai and its forest life.
“Under our government, we had declared 808 acres of land as forests. We fought for forests to protect our tribals. When we were here, no trees were uprooted,” he said.
Claiming that metro cars go for maintenance every three-four months and not every night, the government can afford to build sheds in Kanjurmarg.
“If sheds are built in Kanjurmarg, forest life will be preserved, along with tribal life and money,” he said.
Earlier on July 3, Aaditya Thackeray had urged the newly inducted Eknath Shinde government to scrap the re-proposed Aarey metro project, which has been a fraught issue in the city for several years.
In September 2019, then Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said the government is bound to cut trees in Mumbai’s Aarey forest area as “development is important”.
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) announced its plan to cut down over 2,700 trees from the Aarey colony in order to build a car shed for the metro.
The colony, spread over 13,000 hectares, is home to over 27 Adivasi villages and inhabits various animal species.
The Bombay High Court in September 2019, verbally directed the MMRCL and the state government not to cut any trees in the Aarey forest area for the construction of a metro car shed, to which they agreed.
Later in October 2019, the Bombay High Court had dismissed all petitions against the proposed cutting down of over 2,500 trees in Aarey Colony of Mumbai to make way for a metro car shed.
However, the Maharashtra government stayed the order for the Aarey metro car shed project following massive public agitation in the city.
In 2020, then Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced that the state government had withdrawn cases registered against people who were protesting against the proposed metro car shed in Aarey.
He had said the proposed car shed has been shifted from Aarey to Kanjurmarg.
The new Eknath Shinde-led government in Maharashtra has proposed to move back the metro car shed project to Mumbai’s Aarey forest.