Dairy devpt dept official says had no say in it; activists slam loss of green cover.
More than a year after the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) temporarily sought 8,000 sqm of land in Aarey Colony to house labourers and build machinery yards, the state dairy development gave it permanent charge of the plot on Monday.
Environmentalists alleged that the move smacked of a land-grabbing attempt.
The MMRDA, which is developing nine Metro corridors in the city—Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation is handling line 3—had in February last year asked for the land on a temporary basis for a maximum of five years, seeking to construct a camp for Metro labourers, a steel yard and a machinery yard for the Dahisar East-Andheri East corridor (line 7). This parcel of land is close to the Western Express Highway, from where Metro-I passes. It had also sought a place to build Metro Bhavan, a control room to operate the signalling system of all corridors. Then MMRDA bosses had claimed that trees would be transplanted on the plot once the agency was through with its work.
The demand had drawn the ire of environmentalists, who warned that such a move would spell an end of one of the last green covers of the city.
Three months ago, the MMRDA changed its tune: It demanded permanent charge of the plot. The dairy development department granted this through a government resolution (GR) on Monday, leaving the green brigade up in arms again.
D Stalin of NGO Vanashakti, which has been fighting against the losing green cover of Aarey, said the state government’s move “confirms the fears that entire Aarey is up for sale”. “The state government is busy selling Aarey to all and sundry,” he alleged.
Zoru Bhathena of the citizen-driven Save Aarey Movement, said, “The government is out to ruin Aarey. First, the MMRDA demanded land on a temporary basis and then asked for it on permanent basis. The government only looks at Aarey as a land bank.”
MMRDA spokesperson Dilip Kawathkar said land has been given as per the agency’s requirements.
A junior officer from the dairy development department claimed that it had no say in the allotment of land and the decision was taken at a warroom meeting of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Aarey Colony is spread over 3,160 acres.