The construction of the car depot for the Metro 3 in Aarey Colony will cost the city 3,184 trees. This figure, revealed in a bid document issued by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) on February 14, is much higher than what they publicly declared. In its submissions to the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the metro implementing body had claimed that only about 500 trees will be cut.
The MMRC had earlier claimed that 1,200 trees were likely to be cut in the green area and another 900 would be transplanted. However, owing to the continued pressure by the activists, the MMRC decided to redesign the depot in such a way that lesser trees would be affected. With this, the depot is to be constructed only on 25 hectares land as opposed to the earlier 30 hectares. The MMRC claims that the survey to finalise the final tree count is still incomplete.
“An internal research, survey and preparation of the proposal for the Tree Authority is still on. We will be able to share all the details only once it is fully ready,” said a spokesperson from the MMRC. In the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report given to Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the funding agency for the project, in 2012, the MMRC had mentioned that only 177 trees will be cut across the 33 km alignment and 412 will be transplanted. However, the MMRC now intends to cut 1,074 trees and transplant 1,727 trees.
However, the tender document which invites bidders for the construction of the car depot reveals that 3,184 trees are to be cut and 200 trees are to be transplanted. Depending on the girth of the trees, the MMRC will be paying anything between Rs 940 to Rs 28,548 for cutting them. This altogether will cost them a whopping Rs 3,32,49,313 just for tree cutting. Meanwhile, the price mentioned for transplanting the 200 trees is Rs 9,21,200. “The MMRC has always maintained that the land allotted for the car depot has very few trees and not many trees are going to be hacked for the construction. This document clearly shows that a lot more trees are going to be chopped down than what they have revealed,” said Priya Mishra, a member of the Aarey Conservation Group.
Further, the document also indicates the area of the land to be around 26.4 hectares and not the officially stated 30 hectares land. “Either the MMRC is lying about redesigning the car depot as they had already planned it on a 26.4 hectare land or they are lying about the number of trees that will be cut for the metro construction. Either way, the trees are going to be lost,” added Mishra.