Victory Of People: MMRDA Drops Plan For Metro Construction In Aarey Forest, Activists Call It Partial Win
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has finally responded to the demands of citizens who protested against the felling of trees in the Aarey forest area. Hundreds of people in Mumbai have been staging protests for months now, to oppose the cutting of over 2,700 trees in the Aarey colony for the proposed metro line six.
“It is clarified that the MMRDA has arranged casting yards for Line 6 at Wadala and other sites of existing yards and there is no proposal for casting yardland in Aarey,” read a statement issued on by Dilip Kawathkar, Joint Projects Director, MMRDA.
“MMRDA requires 28,813 square metres of land to create a casting yard. The MMRDA also released a statement saying it had sought two plots along the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR),” Kawathkar said.
Alternate arrangements at Wadala measuring 1,500 square metres along JVLR will be used as a yard for the project. The under-construction metro line six covers 14.5km, between Swami Samarth Nagar in Oshiwara and Vikhroli, and is expected to cost Rs 6,716 crores.
While some see the announcement as a reaction to the people’s movements and protests, activists have stressed that this is only a small victory. While the casting yard proposal may be scrapped, they say, other projects which are aimed towards opening up of the buffer zones still stand.
“Many people believe that the entire metro car shed project has been shifted, a false narrative is being projected by media reports,” Harshad, a local activist, told NewsClick.
“We have been asking for a ‘No Development Zone’ to be declared for the Aarey Forest and for it to be merged with Sanjay Gandhi National Park. It is important to remember the sheer number of projects that are coming up in the region, this includes the Metro-3 Car Shed project, the SRA scheme, the Metro Bhavan and the RTO scheme. So, while this decision by the MMRDA is significant, there is a long battle ahead. The casting yard was just one project. The sword of other projects still dangles over the neck of the forest. There is not much reason for us to be happy about it,” said Harshad.
Nearly 300 hectares of forest land has been acquired in Aarey for these multiple projects.
Yash Marwa an activist associated with the ‘Let India Breathe’ campaign added, “This is just a token move, the land which is being shifted is not much, it is just six acres, the larger issues still remains. While people are congratulating one another over this bit of news and the impact of the campaign, we must not forget the larger fight.”