Uddhav Thackeray stays work on Aarey metro shed

Maharashtra’s former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis slams the decision.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has ordered a stay on the construction of the metro car shed project inside Mumbai’s green lung, the Aarey forest. 

“I have ordered to stop the work of Aarey metro car shed project today. Metro work will not start until any further decision, not a single leaf of Aarey will be cut,” Mr Thackeray said following a meeting with officials on Friday. 

Project reviewed

 Barely a day after being sworn in as Chief Minister, Mr. Thackeray on Friday reviewed the controversial project that saw the overnight cutting down of over 2,000 trees on October 4. The hacking had triggered widespread protests across the city and arrest of hundreds of activists who had made a last ditch bid to save the trees in Chipko style.

Mr. Thackeray clarified he was not against any infrastructure works and would not discontinue other projects of the Mumbai metro. However, the government will fully review the ongoing construction of the car shed inside the green lung in the next two days. 

Aditya Thackeray, the Chief Minister’s son and Sena MLA from Worli, who had taken a tough stand against the chopping of the trees despite his party then being an ally of the ruling BJP, welcomed the decision.

“The people of Mumbai are happy with this decision. Development works will continue but the harm that was being done to the environment will be stopped,” he said.

The decision however, evoked sharp criticism from the BJP and former chief minster Devendra Fadnavis, who called the move ‘unfortunate’ and a real disincentive for investors who want to infuse capital into Mumbai’s infrastructure.

“It is unfortunate that the State Government stayed Aarey Metro car shed work in spite of the Supreme Court and High Court orders. The ultimate sufferer is the common Mumbaikar only,” said Mr. Fadnavis.

He added that decision is also a setback for the investors who had put their trust in the Maharashtra government’s works. Japan’s JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) had lent ₹15,000 crore for this Metro project at 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,” Mr. Fadnavis said.

The decision was however, welcomed by other parties, who said the Chief Minister should now declare the entire area as a forest and nothing less.

“Grateful to our Chief Minister @OfficeofUT for staying the work on the Metro Car Shed in Aarey. Will eagerly await the declaration of Aarey as a forest and an end to the Metro Bhawan, zoo and other misadventures once and for all,” said Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Preeti Sharma Menon.

The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) too welcomed the decision, saying the government and the Maha Vikas Aghadi stands for clean and green development.

The Sena leaders had earlier flagged projects that could be reviewed by Mr. Thackeray inlcuding the Bullet Train and the Nanar refinery. “Costs of these projects is too much with little possibilities of giving results,” Sena Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande had said, sounding a warning on Wednesday.

Earlier, Mumbai witnessed major protests by environmentalists and social activists against the felling of over 2,500 trees in the city’s Aarey colony to construct a proposed car shed for the Mumbai Metro Rail project.

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