In a first major decision taken after assuming power in the State, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday stayed the work on the construction of a car shed for Metro phase-III at Aarey Colony in South Mumbai, pending a review of the project.
Within a couple hours after assuming the office at Mantralaya (State Secretariat), Uddhav said, “I believe in fulfilling promises I make… I have been thinking what to do for Mumbai… You may remember the Mumbai car shed issue had generated considerable heat during the elections. As a first, I have stayed the work on the metro car shed at Aarey colony. The car shed work will not resume till we take a full review of the project.”
Speaking to mediapersons after he was felicitated by the State Secretariat and Legislature Reporters’ Association on his assuming the office, Uddhav said, “This (the review of metro car shed work) is essential I read news reports today that some trees felled at Aarey colony last night. I will not allow this kind of butchering of trees. I will take a total review of the whole thing,” the Chief Minister said.
Indicating that he was per se not against the metro project, Uddhav said, “Whatever necessary will happen. I am all for development. I have not given any stay on the development work. But, I do not want any development that comes at the cost of our precious assets. Hence I have given direction to the people concerned that not even a leaf is removed from Aarey colony.”
Reacting swiftly to the MVA Government’s decision to stay the car shed work, former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis described the decision as “unfortunate” and it showed that the new Government is not serious about Mumbai Infrastructure projects.
“It’s unfortunate that the State Government stayed Aarey Metro Car Shed work in spite of Hon Supreme Court & Hon High Court orders. This shows State Government is not serious about Mumbai Infrastructure projects! And ultimate sufferer is common Mumbaikar only!,” Fadnavis tweeted.
“Japan’s JICA had funded Rs 15,000 crore for this Metro project on nominal interest rates. Such decisions will demotivate investors to come forward in future and all infra projects will get stalled which were already delayed for so long in previous 15-year rule,” Fadnavis added in another tweet.
Uddhav, who had earlier met the bureaucrats at the Secretariat, said, “I have told the secretaries that ours being a people’s Government, we should conduct ourselves in a courteous manner with people. I have told them we should make judicious use of public money. We get money through taxes hard earned money of people. We should take care that we do not spend or waste money on unnecessary things. We should account for the money we receive from the people.”
Dwelling upon his priorities as the Chief Minister, Uddhav said, “Perhaps I am the first Mumbai-born Chief Minister of Maharashtra. My birth took place almost around the same time Maharashtra came into existence. Being a Mumbaikar, I have some plans for Mumbai. Similarly, I have plans for other cities of Maharshtra. Farmers are on our agenda. I have asked the State administration to give me a status paper on the relief given to farmers so far…”
Uddhav said the price rise, corruption and scarcity were the main challenges before his Government. He said one of the basic tenets of his Government would be “transparency”. He asked the print and electronic media to be the Government’s “eyes and earns” and exhorted them help the Government in resolving complex issues faced by it.
The Uddhav Government-led “Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi” Government’s decision to stay the metro phase-III car shed be seen in the developments that took place in the run-up to the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly polls. The Shiv Sena had vehemently opposed “illegal” tree felling at Aarey colony to pave way for the construction of a car shed for Metro phase-III.
After the Bombay High Court on October 4 dismissed all petitions challenging the proposed felling of 2,646 trees in Aarey Colony at Goregaon, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) felled 2,141 trees on October 4 and 5 following the HC’s order upholding of the BMC’s Tree Authority’s permission to fell 2,185 trees at Aarey colony.
After the MMRCL felled the trees indiscriminately at Aarey colony on the night of October 4, the Shiv Sena had on October 5 joined the activists and various political parties against the tree felling and also the arrest of 29 activists who had resisted the tree felling by the workers hired to fell the trees on the previous night.
Yuv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray, who has long been opposing the tree felling at Aarey Colony and was among the first lot to raise a protest against Friday night’s tree felling, had tweeted: “A project that should be executed with pride, the Metro 3, @MumbaiMetro3 has to do it in the cover of the night, with shame, slyness and heavy cop cover. The project supposed to get Mumbai clean air, is hacking down a forest with a leopard, rusty spotted cat and more.”
Later in the day on October 5, Aditya had come out with one more tweet, “The use of a large number of police personnel. Hacking trees in the dead of the night, even after winning in court (then why not broad day light) and detention of peaceful protesters and citizens. Who is authorising this? During Code of Conduct? All these powers handed to MMRC?”
Later on October 7, the Supreme Court restrained the MMRCL cutting any more trees at Aarey Colony till October 21. Hours after the apex court restrained it from cutting any more trees till October, MMRCL said that while it “respected” the apex court’s order, it had felled 2,141 trees on October 4 and 5 following the Bombay High court’s order upholding of the BMC’s Tree Authority’s permission to fell 2,185 trees at Aarey colony.
However, on October 21, the Supreme Court clarified that the controversial Metro car shed project in Mumbai’s Aarey colony could continue, but the freeze on tree cutting would remain. The apex court had also asked for a White Paper on the issue, seeking details on the trees cut, transplanted and those that survived the transplant. Project
CM: I’m not against development, but no felling till review of Metro car shed work.
Saturday, 30 November 2019 | TN RAGHUNATHA | Mumbai
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