A day after taking over as Maharashtra chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray has ordered the stopping of work on the Mumbai Metro car shed project at Aarey Colony, according to several media reports.
Uddhav has asserted that work on the metro rail will not stop, but until further orders, 'not a single leaf of Aarey will be cut.'
However, the state government had already told the Bombay High Court on 7 October that no more trees are required to be cut to make way for a car shed of the Mumbai Metro in Aarey Colony.
During the tenure of the previous government headed by Devendra Fadnavis, the Shiv Sena was at the forefront of protests against the felling of trees at the spot, even though it was part of the ruling alliance. In fact, in September, party leader Aaditya Thackeray had sought the transfer of MMRCL's Managing Director Ashwini Bhide for not heeding the opposition to tree felling.
However, the Shiv Sena's manifesto ahead of the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly election had not mentioned the Aarey car shed issue.
The Metro authorities have defended tree felling by contending that it is restricted only to a small area in Aarey Colony, and is necessary to ensure a modern transport system for Mumbaikars.
The proposed car shed for the Metro-3 line (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) will occupy 33 hectares.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in September that said Aarey Colony is government's land and does not fall under a forest area.
The government also argued that if commuters use the Metro instead of private cars, it will help in bringing down carbon emission.
The Bombay High Court had on 4 October refused to declare Aarey Colony a forest and declined to quash the Mumbai municipal corporation's decision to allow felling of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro car shed.
With inputs from PTI