Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, on August 22, 2017, alleged that the BJP-led Maharashtra government was misleading the people, regarding commercial development on the land meant for a Metro car depot in Aarey Milk Colony in north Mumbai. The government, late in the evening, denied Nirupam’s allegations, asserting that there would be no commercial development at all, on the 30 hectares of land earmarked for the Metro-3 car depot.
“The advertisement issued by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRCL) on August 21, claimed that no real estate development is proposed in the metro car depot. However, the MMRCL’s own documents clearly state that 3,000 sq metres of land, is going to be used for commercial and residential purpose. It is clearly a misleading statement by the MMRCL,” Nirupam said. A decision about commercial development on the land, could not have been taken without chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ permission, he alleged.
While metro car depots in other cities did not require more than 18 hectares of land, the MMRCL’s advertisement said that the government had handed over 30 hectares of land for the car depot, Nirupam claimed. The commercial exploitation on surplus land will be worth thousands of crores of rupees, but the state government did not disclose this, the Congress leader alleged.
Nirupam also questioned why the government did not opt for sites in Kanjurmarg or the Mahalaxmi Race Course, for the car depot. He refuted the MMRCL’s claim that the land belonged to the Dairy Development Department and was not a forest land. “The land belongs to the Revenue and Forest Department and the Dairy Development Board is only a custodian,” he said.
Denying the allegations, the chief minister’s office (CMO) said that the entire 30 hectares of land would be used for metro work alone. “Of the 30 hectares of land, five hectares is going to be a green patch. The rest will be used for the construction of the car depot,” it said. A large-sized car depot was needed as eventually, there would be as many as 55 metro trains running on the 33.5-km-long Metro-3 stretch, it said.
The CMO also said that the Forest and Revenue Department had stated in an affidavit before the National Green Tribunal that it does not own the land in Aarey Colony. Environmental activists have been opposing the proposed metro car depot in Aarey Colony, as it would necessitate cutting of trees in this leafy area.