The issue surrounding Metro carshed project at Kanjurmarg has raised concerns within the Shiv Sena, with several senior leaders saying it could give the BJP an opportunity to project the ruling party as “anti-development” in the run up to the 2022 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections.
The Metro Line 3 project, which was fast-tracked when the BJP and Sena were in the ruling alliance in the state, was expected to be up and running by December 2021.
However, agitations against the location of the carshed in Aarey in the last months of the previous government delayed the project.
The ruling alliance’s decision two months ago to relocate the proposed carshed to Kanjurmarg salt pan, and the subsequent impasse over the ownership of the land has put the party and the alliance on the back foot.
“It is more a political issue than the development issue. The BMC polls are just over a year away and the BJP is attempting to project the Sena and Chief Minister as anti-development. That is why BJP is making an issue of Kanjurmarg land,” said a senior Sena leader.
The BJP has also shown willingness to see NCP chief Sharad Pawar mediate between the state and the Centre to resolve the carshed issue.
“We believe Sharad Pawar will always take a practical stand and not make wrong decisions when it comes to development projects,” Fadnavis had said earlier this week.
The BJP has also insisted that moving the carshed out of Aarey would be a financial disaster for the project and the city.
“Any attempt to relocate the carshed from Aarey colony will prove disastrous for the project. The financial implications will run into additional Rs 4,500 crore and delay of four years… A carshed at Aarey has to be built even if the government considers any other project. Why is the state government overlooking its own high power committee report, which has clearly said Aarey colony as preferred destination and rejected Kanjurmarg as alternative site,” Fadnavis said.
Earlier, the Sena had also opposed the Metro Line 3 in Girgaum and Kalbadevi area over demand for in-situ rehabilitation of the project-affected people.
At present, 180 km of Metro lines, Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link, connecting Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, and Coastal Road projects are under construction in the city.
All of them were fast-tracked during the Fadnavis government, and the BJP can be expected to make that a big part of its poll plank.
In a move that showcased the Sena’s seriousness in countering the anti-development tag, Thackeray in a pre-emptive move visited several Metro sites and inspected the Coastal Road project days after the court ruled against the government in the Kanjurmarg matter.
The Sena-controlled BMC also went into a publicity overdrive by releasing videos of how much work it had completed on the Coastal Road project.
There are also concerns about the political price Sena will have to pay to the BJP for the release of the Kanjurmarg land from the salt land commissioner’s ownership.
A letter from the PMO asking the state government to expedite land acquisition for the Bullet train project has triggered speculation that it could be the BJP’s ask in return for Kanjurmarg.
Only 22 per cent of land has been acquired for the project in Maharashtra while the Gujarat government has acquired around 90 per cent land.
“As of now, it looks that the Centre might ask the state government to expedite the land acquisition for the bullet train project, which is a dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said a source in the government.
A senior Sena leader said the Centre will require the state’s help in acquiring land for the Bullet train project.
Sources said the government is exploring legal options on what can be done with respect to the bullet train project.
A BJP leader, requesting anonymity, said, “The bullet train project is not about state and Centre. It is a project committed between India and Japan. It was signed in the presence of the PMs of two nations. Any project that involves international funds is honoured irrespective of governments in power.”
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