The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) proposes to use the additional 3-hectare land in Aarey Milk Colony for commercial purposes, reveal documents procured through the Right to Information (RTI). Along with the application for excavation and land filling of the 30 hectares of land in Aarey submitted to the collector’s office on September 21, a map has also been attached, which has marked the 3-hectare land as ‘additional land required for real estate development’.
“These documents show that the land in Aarey has been chosen for real estate development while the car depot is just an excuse. They have allowed three FSI for the area and it clearly has no link with the Metro,” said Zoru Bhathena, an activist who had filed the RTI. Further, the documents, submitted by contractor Sam (India) Builtwell Pvt. Ltd for the construction of the depot, reveals that only 28 hectares will be used for the depot. Of this, the MMRC proposes to leave out five hectares as green area and not conduct any construction activity there.
“According to their map, another 2.4 hectares will be used for the ramp to allow the Metro to come over the ground and 2 hectares for the Aarey station. This leaves them only with around 18 hectares for the depot. However they have been claiming all along that they require 30 hectares for a depot and the Kalina land was also rejected on this ground as only 20 hectares were available there,” said Priya Mishra, a member of the Aarey Conservation Group (ACG).
The Chief Minister’s Office had on September 6 tweeted: “Total 33 hectares Aarey land will be used only for Metro Car depot & allied activities and no commercial use permitted!” along with the document showing the sanctioned modification deleting the land from “No Development Zone” to “Metro Car Depot/ Workshop, allied users”. The conditions for the modification also mention “Commercial user shall not be permitted”. Meanwhile, the documents also reveal that while the collector has granted permission for excavation of the land, no permission has been granted for land filling.
“The MMRC has applied for land filling, however, the files have no document showing that the permission was granted. They received permission for excavation of the land on October 6,” added Bhathena. Meanwhile, the MMRC said it has no plans to make any real estate development in Aarey car depot land.
“Yes, it was planned on 3.5 ha land when the project was approved in 2013, but has been dropped subsequently and it has been confirmed by the recent GOM notifications. MMRC has time and again clarified that it has no plans to make any real estate development in Aarey car depot land. While reiterating this fact, it is further clarified that the land use permitted at Aarey car depot land by GOM by its recent notifications is restricted to Metro car depot and allied activities only which do not include any commercial development. In fact, GOM has banned any real estate development at the depot site,” said spokesperson from MMRC.