Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam on Tuesday alleged that the BJP-led Maharashtra government was misleading the people regarding commercial development on the land meant for a Metro car depot in Aarey Milk Colony in north Mumbai. The government, late in the evening, denied Nirupam’s allegations, asserting that there would be no commercial development at all on the 30 hectares of land earmarked for Metro car depot. “The advertisement issued by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRCL) on August 21 claimed that no real estate development is proposed in the Metro car depot. But MMRCL’s own documents clearly state that 3,000 sq meters of land is going to be used for commercial and residential purpose. It is clearly a misleading statement by the MMRCL,” Nirupam said.
A decision about commercial development on the land could not have been taken without Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ permission, he alleged.
While Metro car depots in other cities did not require more than 18 hectares of land, the MMRCL advertisement said that the government had handed over 30 hectares of land for the car depot, Nirupam claimed.
The commercial exploitation on surplus land will be worth thousands of crores of rupees, but the state government did not disclose this, the Congress leader alleged.
Nirupam also questioned why the government did not opt for sites in Kanjurmarg or the Mahalaxmi Racecourse for the car depot.
He refuted MMRCL’s claim that the land belongs to the Dairy Development Department and is not a forest land. “The land belongs to Revenue and Forest Department and Dairy Development Board is only a custodian,” he said.
Environmental activists have been opposing the proposed Metro car depot in Aarey Colony, as it would necessitate cutting of trees in this leafy area.
Late in the evening, the chief minister’s office denied Nirupam’s claims.
The entire 30 hectares of land would be used for Metro work alone, the CMO satement said.
“Of the 30 hectares of land, five hectarte is going to be a green patch….Rest will be used for the construction of car depot,” it said.
A large-sized car depot was needed as eventually there would be as many as 55 Metro trains running on the 33.5 km long Metro-3 stretch, it said.
As to the ownership of the land, the CMO said the Forest and Revenue Department had stated in an affidavit before the National Green Tribunal that it does not own the land in Aarey Colony.