Home / News / India /  Maharashtra govt to shift metro car shed in Mumbai's Aarey colony

Maharashtra govt to shift metro car shed in Mumbai's Aarey colony

File image: The decision cut more than 2,500 trees at Aarey Colony for a Metro shed had sparked protests from residents (Photo: PTI)Premium
File image: The decision cut more than 2,500 trees at Aarey Colony for a Metro shed had sparked protests from residents (Photo: PTI)

On Thursday evening, Eknath Shinde, who led a revolt against Shiv Sena leading to the collapse of the 31-month-old Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, took oath as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis took an oath as Deputy Chief Minister.

The new Maharashtra govt led by eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis has directed the state's Advocate General that the metro car shed will be built in Aarey itself, news agency ANI has reported citing sources.

The side of the Maharashtra government regarding the metro car shed issue in Aarey forest should be presented before the Court, sources said.

On Thursday evening, Eknath Shinde, who led a revolt against Shiv Sena leading to the collapse of the 31-month-old Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, took oath as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis took an oath as Deputy Chief Minister.

What is the controversy surrounding the metro car shed?

In September 2019, then Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said that the government is bound to cut trees in Mumbai's Aarey forest area as "development is important".

Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation announced its plan to cut down over 2,700 trees from the Aarey colony in order to build a car shed for the Metro. The colony which is spread over 13,000 hectares, is home to over 27 Adivasi villages and inhabits various animal species.

The Bombay High Court in September 2019, verbally directed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) and the state government not to cut any trees in the Aarey forest area for the construction of a metro car shed, to which they agreed.

Later in October 2019, the Bombay High Court had dismissed all petitions against the proposed cutting down of over 2,500 trees in Aarey Colony of Mumbai to make way for a Metro car shed.

However, the Maharashtra government had stayed the order for the Aarey metro car shed project following massive public agitation in the city.

In 2020, then Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced that the state government had withdrawn cases registered against people who were protesting against the proposed metro car shed in Aarey. He had said the proposed car shed has been shifted from Aarey to Kanjur Marg.

Earlier on 6 June this year, the Centre had submitted an affidavit in the Bombay High Court, asserting its ownership and title over a land in Mumbai's Kanjurmarg area, where the then Maharashtra government had proposed to construct a Metro car shed  and claimed that a decree in the name of a private firm with respect to the land was obtained fraudulently and should be held as null and void. 

Then on 15 June, the Bombay High Court set aside a 2020 decree which granted ownership of a 6,000-acre parcel of land in suburban Kanjurmarg to a private firm, saying that a huge "fraud was played on the court" while obtaining the earlier order. 

The order could be significant for the Mumbai Metro project. 

The then Maharashtra government, Centre, Mumbai civic body BMC and several other government and private entities had claimed ownership of the same land or parts of it.

Justice Anil Menon had noted that the decree was obtained by Adarsh Water Parks and Resorts by suppression of material facts such as there were other claimants. 

In March this year, the then Maharashtra government learnt that the high court had in October 2020 granted the decree of ownership of this land to Adarsh Water Parks and Resorts. 

It had then moved the HC, challenging the decree. 

The then state government had has proposed to construct a car shed for the metro project on about 100 acres of the same land parcel after nixing the earlier plan to construct the car shed in the Aarey Colony area following protests by environmental activists. 

Justice Menon noted that the court in October 2020 was persuaded to pass the order in favour of the private firm through suppression of facts.

“Undeniably, a fraud of huge proportion has been played by suppressing the claim of other parties on the land. The decree order is a product of fraud played on the court by the parties. I have no doubt in my mind that the fraud was on the court itself," he said.

Meanwhile, Fadnavis, who was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra from 2014-19, announced at a joint press conference in Mumbai on Thursday that Eknath Shinde will be the new CM. He had also announced at the press conference that he will not be part of the government.

Later, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in a tweet that Fadnavis has decided to be part of the new government in Maharashtra in the interest of the people of the state after a word from BJP chief JP Nadda and congratulated him for his decision.

He said in a tweet that Fadnavis has shown a "big heart" and the decision reflects his true dedication and attitude of service towards Maharashtra.

"On the word of BJP chief JP Nadda, Devendra Fadnavis, showing a big heart, has decided to be part of the government in the interest of Maharashtra and the people of the state. This decision reflects his true dedication and attitude of service towards Maharashtra. I congratulate him from the bottom of my heart," Amit Shah said.

Earlier on Thursday, Shinde and Fadnavis met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari to stake a claim to form the government in the state.

"After the swearing-in ceremony today, we will have a cabinet expansion and Shiv Sena and BJP leaders will take the oath. I will stay out of the government," Fadnavis said.

"In 2019, BJP and Shiv Sena had an alliance and we got the required numbers in Assembly elections. We hoped to form the government but Shiv Sena chose to get into an alliance with those against whom Balasaheb protested throughout his life. Shiv Sena insulted the mandate of the people."

"Shiv Sena MLAs were demanding that the alliance with Congress and NCP should be ended but Uddhav Thackeray ignored these MLAs and gave priority to MVA alliance partners, that's why these MLAs intensified their voices," he added.

Uddhav Thackeray's resignation as Chief Minister on Wednesday came days after Shinde led a rebellion with at least 39 Shiv Sena MLAs.

Shinde, who was also present at the press conference with Fadnavis, said the decision taken is committed to Bal Thackeray's Hindutva and for development work in the constituencies of the 50 MLAs supporting him.

"A total of 50 MLAs are with us, including 40 MLAs from Shiv Sena...We have fought this battle so far with their help...I will not let even a scratch mar the trust that these 50 people have placed in me - let alone break that trust," Shinde said.

"The decision that we have taken is committed to Balasaheb's Hindutva and for the development work in the constituencies of our MLAs. We have 50 MLAs with us," he added.

The Shiv Sena leader further said that though BJP has 120 MLAs, Fadnavis did not take up the post of Chief Minister. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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