Metro car shed: BJP plans mass campaign against relocation, Centre’s nod now key factor

Written by Sandeep A Ashar
| Mumbai |

October 15, 2020 3:38:04 am

Metro car shed, Metro car shed relocation, Aarey forests, BJP, Devendra Fadnavis, BJP mass campaign against metro shed relocation, maharashtra news, indian express newsFadnavis on Wednesday highlighted how an expert committee appointed by Uddhav himself had rejected the Kanjurmarg option. (File)

The relocation of the Metro car shed project from Aarey to Kanjurmarg in Mumbai is not a done deal yet, as the Uddhav Thackeray government will have to secure a nod from the Centre for the change in plans of the 33.5-km Colaba-Bandra-Seepz corridor.

With the BJP in the state strongly opposed to the relocation, the approval becomes key to the continuation of the project.

The Centre holds 50 per cent stake in the project, which is expected to see a cost escalation post the relocation. A fresh approval will be required from the Union Ministry of Urban Development for cost revision. This requirement was discussed during the state Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

On October 11, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had announced the scrapping of the ongoing car shed for the Metro corridor at Aarey Milk Colony. A 41-acre dried salt pan land at Kanjurmarg has now been proposed as the new site. On Wednesday, state Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray visited the new site.

Continuing to target the government over the move, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday told The Indian Express that his party will launch a mass awareness campaign against it.

Fadnavis has alleged that the new site was affected by multiple court litigations and that the Bombay High Court had stayed any land allotment and ordered a status quo. Countering this, the government has pointed to a legal opinion submitted by the state advocate general on September 30 that the “allotted land was not affected by the court’s stay”.

With the relocation also involving interface of the Metro line with another Metro corridor – an elevated one connecting Andheri to Vikhroli – the Cabinet on Wednesday discussed the costs involved.

The Kanjurmarg car depot is proposed to serve both the Metro corridors. At the Cabinet meeting, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) Commissioner R A Rajeev informed ministers that the interfacing of the Metro lines will require some design changes and pegged the total system integration costs to about Rs 350 to Rs 400 crore.

Of this, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited will have to bear Rs 200 crore. The project will also suffer cost escalation due to time overruns in relocation and building of the new car shed.

Fadnavis on Wednesday highlighted how an expert committee appointed by Uddhav himself had rejected the Kanjurmarg option. “Our government had also considered the Kanjurmarg option in 2015 itself, but due to delays and multiple litigations, we finally gave up on the option,” he said.

Questioning the argument that the land was free of litigation, he said that during his tenure as the CM, the revenue department had approached the HC for vacation of the stay. “At one stage, the court asked us to deposit Rs 2,661 crore towards the land value at ready reckoner rates,” he said.

In a series of tweets, the former CM also shared the findings of the committee, which had ruled that the Kanjurmarg land was “fraught with uncertainties and litigations”. Quoting paras from the committee’s report – submitted to the government in January this year but yet to be made public – he highlighted the complexities, the cost overruns and the operational challenges of integration of the two Metro corridors.

Fadnavis contended that the underground Metro cost will rise by at least Rs 3,000 to Rs 3,5000 crore and the commissioning delayed by four-and-a-half years following the relocation. The cost of escalation will have to be borne by the taxpayer.

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