Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray addressed the people of the state on Sunday
On Sunday, days after the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis asked Mr. Thackeray and the Shiv Sena-led state government to give up their “ego” and resume development of the controversial metro car shed project at Aarey Colony in Mumbai, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that rushed infrastructure work would lead to waste and not actual waste.
After a fierce agitation by civil society and environmental activists, Mr. Thackery, whose administration stopped construction work at Aarey and moved it to Kanjurmarg in October, hit Mr. Fadnavis back and said that if it was “arrogance” to wish the best for Mumbai, then he acknowledged the blame.
“I am being called arrogant’ on the subject of the Metro car shed. Yes, I am arrogant for Mumbai. We sent the car shed to Kanjurmarg because building it in Aarey was destroying the forest there First, trees would have been cut for a car shed… then for something else and slowly the whole forest would have disappeared,” said Mr. Thackeray.
“It is not true that for development to occur things must only be done quickly. Working in haste can lead to losses and waste. We want development… but for present and future generations,” the Chief Minister continued, adding that despite decreased cash flow, something was going on.
We decided to construct the Kanjurmarg car shed because it would have been possible to build only Metro 3 shed in Aarey. Sheds for Metro 3, 4, and 6 are possible in Kanjurmarg. There is also space here for further project extension. It would have been useful for five years if we constructed in Aarey. It would be useful for 50 years in Kanjurmarg,”We decided to build the car shed at Kanjurmarg because in Aarey only Metro 3 shed would have been possible. In Kanjurmarg, sheds for Metro 3, 4, and 6 are possible. There is also space here for further expansion of the project. If we built in Aarey, it would have been useful for five years. In Kanjurmarg it will be useful for 50 years,”It will be useful for 50 years in Kanjurmarg.
You (Maharashtra people), please tell me… what greed is there in this?”You (people of Maharashtra) please tell me… what is the arrogance in this?”
Against the proposal to build a Metro car shed, fierce protests to save Aarey Forest broke out.
The Bombay High Court temporarily stopped building in Kanjurmarg last week with the center contesting possession of the property – about 102 acres – claiming it belonged to its salt agency.
A day later, Devendra Fadnavis (who was Chief Minister before Mr. Thackeray, and whose government pushed forward the Aarey site) said that only to satisfy its ego” the state had moved construction.
Mr. Thackeray shot back: “Politics shouldn’t come in the way of the development… more than ownership, what is important is how the project will benefit people.”
Last year the planned building of a car shed in Aarey led to a bitter row between environmental activists and the then BJP-ruled government, which required 2,700 trees to be cut down to create the shed. The Sena, which was then an ally of the BJP, strongly opposed the initiative.
The “green lung of Mumbai” is commonly used as the Aarey forest – a large swathe of green with around five lakh trees and home to a wide range of animals and birds.
The Bombay High Court declined to declare Aarey a forest in October last year. Activists wrote to the then Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, demanding the involvement of the Supreme Court. The court ordered a temporary stay, but the government of Maharashtra said it had cut down the trees that were required.
After the outcome of the Assembly election, which saw the BJP expelled and Sena come to power, construction was halted in November, with Uddhav Thackeray becoming Chief Minister.
In one of his first decisions, Mr. Thackeray ordered a stay for building (on cleared land).