Uddhav Thackeray "Very Upset" After Eknath Shinde Reverses Big Decision

Eknath Shinde, it is learnt, has directed the Advocate General to submit in court that the shed will be built at Aarey Colony

Mumbai:

Hours after he took over as Maharashtra Chief Minister, Eknath Shinde has moved to reverse the Uddhav Thackeray government's stand on the controversial Metro car shed project in Mumbai. Mr Shinde's ex boss, Uddhav Thackeray, said he was "very upset" and urged the government to not reverse the Metro car shed plan.

Mr Shinde, it is learnt, has directed Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to submit in court that the Metro car shed will be built at Aarey Colony as planned in 2019 under the Devendra Fadnavis government.

"A lot of work has been done but since the car shed work is stuck the metro cannot begin operations. The site that the last government chose is in dispute. 25 per cent work has been completed at the site where we proposed to build the car shed and the remaining work can also be completed quickly. In Mumbai's interest, the car shed should be built there only. That is why our government has decided to build the car shed there," said Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Mr Thackeray reminded the new administration that this would be a direct attack at the heart of Mumbai.

"I am very upset. If you are angry with me, then vent out your anger, but don't stab Mumbai in the heart. I am very upset that the Aarey decision has been overturned. This is not a personal property," Mr Thackeray said.

The issue, which had sparked massive protests in Mumbai by environmental activists, dates back to 2019 when the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation sought the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) permission to fell trees at Aarey Colony, an urban forest many refer to as Mumbai's green lung.

Protests began soon after the BMC gave a go ahead to the project. As activists stepped up their agitation, then Chief Minister Fadnavis said the area identified for the Metro car shed does is not categorised as biodiversity or forest land. He also reasoned that the Metro will reduce carbon footprint. "Why we save trees because we want to reduce the carbon footprint. So, we need to understand one thing that how much carbon footprint is going to be reduced due to the underground Metro," he said.

Following the Assembly polls later that year, the Shiv Sena parted ways with long-time ally BJP and the Maha Vikas Aghadi government under Uddhav Thackeray was formed.

The new government, heeding to the protests by activists, decided to shift the Metro car shed to Kanjurmarg. Thereafter, the BJP-led government at the centre went to Bombay High Court in 2020, saying the land belonged to its Salt department. The High Court then issued a stay. Since then, the project has been in a limbo.

The Shiv Sena has been opposing the plan to build the shed at Aarey even when they were the BJP's alliance partners. Responding to the BJP's criticism over shifting the project, Chief Minister Thackeray last year said infrastructure works undertaken in haste can lead to waste and not true development.

Soon after Mr Shinde's move, BJP leader Kirit Somaiya tweeted that it will bring the Mumbai Metro work back on track. 

"Shinde Fadnavis Govt decision to bring back MetroCar Shed at Aarey will put Mumbai Metro work back on Track," he tweeted.

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