THE PROPOSAL of allotting 17 plots to the Mumbai Metro 3 project was yet again rejected by the Shiv Sena with the help of opposition parties during the general body meeting held on Tuesday. This is the second time that the Sena and opposition parties such as Congress, MNS and Samajwadi Party joined hands to oppose the BJP’s pet project.
When the proposal came up for discussion, an amendment to record the proposal was moved by Opposition leader and Congress corporator Pravin Chheda, following which more than 25 corporators from all parties spoke on the issue. The recording of a proposal effectively works as a rejection after which the proposal is sent back to the civic administration.
Subsequently, BJP demanded a poll on the proposal in which 98 votes were made in favour of recording the proposal while 26 were against it.
However, the rejection of the proposal by Sena and the opposition parties will not bear any consequence since as per Section 520 C under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, the state government is empowered to acquire the land “in the larger interest of the public”.
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Criticising the proposal of giving away open spaces to the Metro project, Chheda said, “No importance is being given to the open spaces in the city by the administration as well as in the development plan. Open spaces are steadily being depleted. On the one hand, the administration is taking back the open spaces from caretakers and on the other hand, they are willingly giving up so many of them for Metro 3.” He added that the plots were being given out at concessional rates which were causing a loss of Rs 287 crore for the BMC. “Who will be bear the cost of these losses? The state government has to give a refund of this amount to the BMC,” he said.
Sena corporators spoke about residents of areas like Girgaum who will be displaced from their homes as well as removal of Hutatma Chowk, a place of historical significance, if the proposal is approved. “We cannot allow so many residents of the city to be rendered homeless when the rehabilitation process is not clearly defined. If the administration asks them to shift to Mankhurd, one cannot expect them to move. Development of the city cannot be done at the cost of the homes of the citizens,” said Sena corporator Raju Pednekar.
Former mayor and Sena corporator Sunil Prabhu opposed the proposal stating that many people would be displaced from their homes if the proposal is approved. “Our objective is clear. We are not opposed to development but not at the cost of people losing their homes and it is the state government’s duty to be answerable to them as well,” he said.
Defending the proposal, BJP group leader Manoj Kotak quoted the efficiency of transportation in New Delhi owing to the presence of metro rail. “The Metro 3 project will ease 35 per cent of the traffic in the city and will save fuel as well. The state government has assured all the project-affected people will be provided with alternate accommodation,” he said. Kotak stated that Congress’ opposition was politically driven adding that unlike the previous government, all long pending infrastructural projects have been taken up by the BJP-led state government.
The proposal was earlier rejected by the Shiv Sena on March 16 when it was placed before the general body by Prakash Gangadhare, senior BJP corporator and chairman of the Improvements Committee. Thereafter, on April 29, the state government wrote to the BMC asking for their comments on the metro proposal to acquire 17 plots in 15 days.