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Aarey Activists slam Ex-Chief Minister Fadnavis’ mail/tweet thread

The ex-CM of Maharashtra made a statement today based on a Twitter thread by him, about the decision by the current MVA government to shift the Metro 3 depot site to Kanjurmarg. Activists unravel some of the misleading claims in a letter.

Land availability
The main claim as to land being unavailable has already been proven false. The land parcel at Kanjurmarg is a large one and only a part of it at the junction of JVLR and EEH is under litigation. The area for the depot is owned by the government and is free from dispute. Moreover, Mr. Fadnavis’s own government had earmarked this plot for the Metro 6 depot. This particular depot land has no mangroves and is not marshy as is evident from the soil testing done yesterday which hit rock within a few feet. A letter dated Oct 1 by the collector, Mumbai Suburban, which was posted by Mr. Fadnavis in one of his tweets explicitly mentions that the advocate general has said that 104 acres sought for the depot are litigation free. This was also mentioned in an affidavit submitted by the collector to the Mumbai high court.

Expert committee views being ignored.

Mr. Fadnavis has claimed that the views of a technical committee formed in January 2020 have been ignored. We would like to point out that he himself has ignored views of the expert members of the 2015 technical committee whose first choice was Kanjurmarg and who warned that Aarey was an environmentally important area. Mr. Fadnavis’s government instead of making a sincere effort to follow these recommendations chose to waste time looking for excuses to not implement them. If the work to shift the depot had begun in 2015 then the work would have been almost complete today. Not just did they ignore an expert panel but also the repeated appeals of citizens from all over Mumbai

Aarey is the only available option

This is misleading. There have been two important reports. The DPR of 2011 found the Kalina site suitable for a second depot in the future to accommodate an increase in rakes. The only reason they chose Aarey over Kalina was based on size. It is already proved that Kalina is actually larger than Aarey and so this was a decision based on incorrect data. Second, the 2015 technical committee report gave Kanjurmarg as the first option which was again ignored. Both these reports published by the government’s own agencies did not choose Aarey as the first option.


Financial viability

The figures given by Mr. Fadnavis are random and just conjecture He mentions 2400 crore as the cost of land at Kanjurmarg because of litigation but it has been proven that the land is owned by the government and hence free of cost. He mentioned 400 crores spent on the Aarey site but the tender for the complete depot is 340 crores. How did his govt spend 400 crores on work which is only 20% complete? He says the cost of merging lines 3 and 6 is 4000 crores. The cost of Line 3 up to SEEPZ falls within the Metro 3 budget. Line 6 has its own budget. The only additional cost will be for the ramp connecting lines 3 and 6. The claim of loss of 4 crores per day of delay is a notional one. Moreover, he is not taking into account the savings achieved by having a common depot in terms of land cost, operational costs, and infrastructure costs by having a common depot for the two lines

Time factor
It has to be pointed out that the original deadline for line 3 was 2019. This has been extended to 2021. While it may take a little more time to complete the depot at Kanjurmarg, the benefit of connecting the Eastern suburbs directly to South Mumbai will prove to be a boon for commuters. In a linear city like Mumbai where the purpose of the metro is also to reduce the load on the suburban rail network, not giving extended suburbs a seamless connection to Churchgate and CST would have failed its purpose. This decision corrects this to a large extent by giving commuters in Eastern suburbs easier access to the airport, Mumbai Central station, and office areas of South Mumbai.

Tenders
Yes, tenders will have to be reissued but it has to be mentioned that MMRCL under Mr. Fadnavis had to themselves withdraw and reissue tenders for the 7 packages of Line 3.

Environmental issues
It’s touching to see Mr. Fadnavis’ concern for the biodiversity of the empty Kanjurmarg plot while steadily ignoring that of the Aarey plot which is a part of a wildlife corridor and a biodiversity hotspot. Nor was he concerned about Aarey’s value as a Catchment area and flood mitigation land. He can spot mangroves and forests in a plot where there are none but could not or chose to disregard the trees on the Aarey plot and even failed to acknowledge that Aarey was a forest

Technical issue
Regarding the technical issues, the present govt is sure to have consulted current and ex MMRCL and MMRDA officials and taken their advice before making this decision. We hope that now the difficult decision has been taken all cooperation will be extended to the Maharashtra government to arrive at successful and early completion of the project in the best interests of Mumbai

For any more clarifications, mail aareyconservationgroup@gmail.com

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