Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced on Sunday that Around 800 acres of land in Mumbai‘s Aarey has been declared a reserve forest. Cases made in last year against citizens and environmentalists who protested against the Aarey project and felling of trees in that area have also been withdrawn.
The metrorail project has been shifted to Kanjurmarg.
Notably, Last year Aarey forest was in headlines because then BJP-ruled Maharashtra government wanted to cut down 2,700 trees to build the shed. Alot of Activists and environmentalists protested against this as the result of which cases got filed against them. Although all such cases have now been withdrawn.
“This uncertainty over the car shed is over now. Biodiversity in Aarey needs to be to protected. There is an 800-acre jungle in an urban set-up… Mumbai has natural forest cover,” he said, adding that the building already constructed in Aarey would be used for some other public purpose.
In a webcast, Thackeray said the project will be shifted to a government land in Kanjurmarg and no cost will be incurred for the purpose. “The land will be available at zero rate,” he said.
“About Rs 100 crore expenditure was incurred for the purpose and it won’t go waste,” he said, adding that there will be no infringement on the rights of tribals in the Aarey forest.
Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray, who campaigned to save the trees, last month said the protesters had fought for the future of the planet and that the rights of Adivasi communities that call Aarey home would be protected.
The Aarey controversy brokeout last year over the then Maharashtra government’s decision to cut down the trees. In October Bombay High Court refused to declare Aarey a forest. Hours later, under the cover of night, bulldozer rolled into Aaray and trees were cut amid a dramatic stand-off with protesters. Thus, the government had to face major backlash over this step.
Then, the top court ordered a temporary that was extended in December.
However, Government had appointed Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to prepare a feasibility study on Metro 3 (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) sharing its car shed with Line 6 (Vikhroli-Lokhandwala).
According to reports, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd officials had expressed apprehension that the Metro Line 3 project may be delayed by three years and its cost may go up by over Rs 2,000 crore if the car shed for the line was shifted from Aarey Colony.
Notably, Mr Thackeray ordered a stay on the construction of Carshed(on cleared land) in one of his first decisions as chief minister.