Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis, in their first Cabinet meeting held after assuming power on Thursday, overturned the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led government’s decision of moving the Metro 3 car shed from Aarey in Mumbai.
It was also decided in the Cabinet that a special session of the state legislature will be convened on July 2 and 3 in Mumbai, when the test of majority and election of the Speaker will be conducted.
Fadnavis directed the urban development department officials to bring a proposal for building the car shed at Aarey before the Cabinet. He added that the 33-km long underground Metro project between Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ was stuck because of a legal wrangle over the Kanjurmarg plot, where the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government had proposed to build the car shed.
Fadnavis asked the bureaucrats whether the courts could be apprised through the advocate general that the car shed could be built at Aarey itself. The move was seconded by Shinde.
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The move to shift the car shed from Aarey has been a major bone of contention between the Shiv Sena and its former ally BJP.
A day after taking over reins of the state, Thackeray, on November 29, 2019, had overturned Fadnavis’ decision to build the car shed at Aarey.
Several environmentalists in Mumbai had opposed the construction of the car shed in Aarey, which is an extension of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and a habitat for leopards and other fauna. Environmentalists, who had claimed that the car shed would damage the lest big vestige of greenery in Mumbai, were backed by Aaditya Thackeray.
Soon after the MVA government came to power, 804 acre of land in Aarey was declared as reserve forest. It was sought to build the car shed on an alternate piece of land in Kanjurmarg.
The Bombay High Court had, however, put a spanner on one of the biggest decisions of the Thackeray government by imposing a stay on the construction of the shed at Kanjurmarg in December 2020. The government since then has not been able to find a viable alternative for building the car shed.
The BJP had claimed that the decision to move the car shed from Aarey was being done to satisfy Thackeray’s ego and would delay the construction of the underground Metro project by four years and increase its cost.
The decision of the new government was opposed by environmentalists, who said that they will move court against any move to build the car shed in Aarey. Environmentalist D Stalin of NGO Vanshakti said, “We will oppose the matter in the court. They can’t build the car shed and the Supreme Court has stayed felling of trees.”
Sanjiv Valsan of Save Aarey Movement said, “There is a detailed plan for integrated Metro shed at Kanjurmarg, which will do away the need for a separate car shed at Aarey and Thane. This land at Kanjurmarg belongs to the government. The MMRC must spare Aarey and it is forest area, flood plain of Mithi river and habitat of wildlife, including leopards.”
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