Mumbai: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray made a fervent appeal Friday to the new government in the state not to go ahead with its plan of building a Metro car shed in the leafy Aarey Colony area of India’s financial capital. In one of its first decisions after it came to power, the Eknath Shinde government has decided to go ahead with the controversial Aarey Colony car shed project.
Thackeray talked to reporters at the Shiv Sena headquarters here. Thackeray said if the car shed was built in Kanjur area, as proposed by his government, then Mumbai Metro can be taken further to distant suburbs of Ambernath and Badlapur.
“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,” Thackeray said.
After coming to power in 2019, Thackeray decided to scrap the decision of the previous Devendra Fadnavis government to build car shed in Aarey Colony, a forested area adjoining the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Green activists had vehemently opposed the cutting of trees in Aarey for the car shed. The Thackeray government also declared Aarey as a reserved forest.
“I had stayed the decision. I gave the option of Kanjur (as alternative site). I am with the environmentalists,” the Shiv Sena chief said. “I am saying this with folded hands. Please do not take out your anger towards me on Mumbai. Don’t play with its environment,” he added.
The Kanjur site earmarked for car shed by his government is disputed land as both Centre and state government besides many private entities have staked claim over it.
Thackeray, known to be an avid wildlife photographer, also said that when the trees were being cut in Aarey Colony for building the car shed during the Fadnavis government’s time, pictures of leopards roaming freely in the area had appeared. It showed that the area has a thriving wildlife, he said.
“My fear is that after you take Aarey land, there will be movement of people and it will endanger the wildlife in the surrounding area,” he said.