In a major boost to Mumbai’s transport infrastructure, the state government cleared two metro rail projects at an estimated cost of Rs. 45,000 crore. The western corridor (DCBM) will connect Dahisar and Mankhurd via Charkop and Bandra, while the eastern route (WGTK) will link Wadala and Kasarvadavali through Ghatkopar and Thane. As we know, Metro I is operational and the most of the people are using it, but it has been delayed by seven years. The good thing is that, it is becoming most preferable and affordable mode of transport for Andheri-Ghatkopar stretch. Delay and further delay and postponement developed pain and struggle among commuters. It kills enthusiasm of riding in a Metro. If the same sorts of delays are repeated as we saw in Metro I project, without any proper planning and execution, then we will see this project in next decade only. People should learn from the past experiences and I hope they learnt the lesson now. The speed of the execution of the project matter’s much more than the length of the route being covered. The way the Reliance metro had delayed the project, Mumbai can’t afford to miss it again.
Anyhow, Metro I is running smoothly but Metro II and Metro III projects are landed in trouble due to its unplanned infrastructure issues. People are living here in chawls from generations. They may be residing in different rooms but their roots are like one family. On the other hand, this intimate living situation also leads to a friendly atmosphere, with support networks akin to familial relationships. A chawl’s life is quite contradictory to what you see in today’s apartment culture. A chawl stimulates interaction among communities, and there is a bridged gap between rich and poor. In today’s era, a chawl is occupied by middle-class migrant people from different parts of the country. Inspite of such a difference in culture, religion and ethnic backgrounds, people in chawl have still maintained healthy relationships with their neighbours and it is being seen that they have no disputes among them. Chawls have a unique heritage value. Shifting or relocating chawls are challenging task always. People will never agree to relocate from their place if they are not shifted in the same area.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told in Assembly that the people affected by Metro’s Phase III project in Mumbai who are currently living in houses of less than 300 sq.ft area would be getting houses twice as big. Those whose current tenements are of an area bigger than 300 sq.ft would be getting houses with at least 30 per cent more area. Nobody will be evicted unless the draft plan for the rehabilitation is ready. Government may say anything, but political parties have already politicized the issue.
The MMRCL also said that total 2,464 constructions are coming in the way of the ambitious Metro III project and 241 different constructions at Mahim and other places will be completely demolished. MMRC plans to fund these two projects by raising loans to the tune of 50 per cent of the cost from international finance agencies; the central government will pitch in with 20 per cent and the state government and MMRDA will provide 30 per cent of the finance by way of equity and sub debt.
Residents of Chira Baazar and Kalbadevi already came on streets calling bandh to protest against government’s decision. Residents of Aarey Colony in Goregaon, ground zero of a spirited protest by residents opposing a proposed car shed for the Mumbai Metro Rail project in the colony, have now alleged that trees along the main road were poisoned on Monday night.While some residents claim they saw men drilling holes and injecting something into the roots of these trees near the Aarey toll naka at around 10 pm. Others allege that a group of men were seen pouring a chemical at the base of the trees. Residents also found freshly dug pits in Aarey Colony. The group is already campaigning to save the 2,298 trees slated to be axed to make way for the car shed for the Metro III line.
Forced by the growing opposition, Devendra Fadnavis constituted an expert panel to look into the project and submit a report within a month. The panel will study alternative sites for the Metro car shed, failing which, it will suggest the best technology and agency to ensure proper transplantation of trees in Aarey. For the Metro car shed, 254 trees from Aarey are proposed to be cut, and 2,044 trees are proposed to be transplanted. Not only human being but the nature is also restless with Metro-III project. I hope that Maharashtra Government will notice these things before implementing the project in the city.