The Bombay High Court’s decision to stay the transfer of 102 acres of land for a Metro car shed in Kanjurmarg has set off a war of words between the leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and the BJP. Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is the proponent of the idea to build the Metro car shed at Aarey, said that the decision to relocate the car shed was an outcome of Thackeray government’s “arrogance” and that the government should acknowledge its mistake and take back the car shed to Aarey. The MVA, meanwhile, hit back at the BJP blaming it for deliberately creating hurdles in the various development works in the state in the last one year.
“The decision to relocate the Metro car shed was an outcome of Thackeray government’s arrogance. There is no reason to justify their action,” Fadnavis said. He added that a committee set up by the state government had warned about the dangers of shifting the project. “The state government should accept its mistake and without getting into prestige battle start work of Metro car shed at Aarey Colony,” Fadnavis said.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar responded without naming the BJP, that nobody should play politics on development works to stall projects. “It seems that the MVA government’s decision to shift car depot from Aarey to Kanjurmarg hurt some people that is why the Centre took an extreme step,” said Pawar.
Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray was more circumspect and said that they would formulate a strategy after getting the detailed order from the court. “We await the detailed written order to decide the future course of action,” said Aaditya. He, however, asserted that the land at Kanjurmarg is crucial not just for Metro 3 but three other Metro lines. “This land is crucial for Metro Line 6, 4 and 14, apart from 3, as it will save almost Rs 5,500 crore of government and be a nodal point for 1 crore citizens,” he added.
Terming the HC’s stay order as unfortunate, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said the BJP and central government have been deliberately creating hurdles in the various development works in the state in the last one year. “As per the instructions of Union minister Piyush Goyal, his department had written a letter to the salt commissioner in July stating to start the process for allotment of Kanjurmarg to the state government. Now, all of a sudden, the central government has changed its stance, on the behest of BJP leaders from the state, in HC to halt the project,” said Sawant.
The Metro car shed is a prestige issue for the Shiv Sena as it had backed the environmentalists opposing it at Aarey Colony. A day after taking charge, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had ordered work to stop in Aarey Colony. Ahead of the Assembly polls last year, Aaditya had voiced his opposition to the car shed and tree cutting in Aarey.
The outcome of the legal battle on the Kanjurmarg land will have its impact on the BMC polls in early 2022 as the Shiv is likely to showcase the party as pro-environment and take credit for shifting the car shed and declare Aarey as forest.