Continuing its attack on the BJP over the Metro car shed issue, the Congress on Saturday said the Devendra Fadnavis-led government had insisted on the usage of land in Aarey for the car shed with the intent to commercially exploit it in the immediate future.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said that while only 20 hectares of land were required for the car shed, the state earmarked 62 hectares, and had plans to commercially exploit the remaining land. He added that because of this, the proposal for building a car shed on the Kanjurmarg site was deliberately rejected by the Fadnavis-led government.
Sawant said the Technical Committee, set up by the Fadnavis government to evaluate the project, had recommended to the state that if the Kanjurmarg land was not allotted for the project, it should use 20.82 hectares of Aarey land, instead of 30, to save trees. He claimed that while the government was insisting the project would only use 25 hectares, in an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court in 2019, the actual area was shown as 61.6 hectares.
He added that the previous government should come clear on what it was planning to do with the additional 40 hectares of land.
Sawant also said that as per the minutes of Fadnavis’ war room meeting, procured under RTI, the Urban Development Department had been directed to reserve 30 hectares of land in Aarey, to be earmarked for car depot and ancillary work. He claimed that the minutes showed that directions were passed that the ancillary work could be expanded in the future to commercial activity.
The BJP, meanwhile, dismissed these allegations, and said the decision of commercially exploiting Aarey land was taken by the Prithviraj Chavan-led Congress government.
“It was Prithviraj Chavan who, in March 2014, decided to hand over Aarey land to the MMRDA at a nominal rate for the Metro project, and allowed commercial exploitation,” said BJP MLA Ashish Shelar. “Devendra Fadnavis shot down this proposal in 2017 and made it clear that the land would only be used for Metro-related work, and that no commercial exploitation could take place on said land.”
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