We are a country where we get astonished if a project is completed on schedule. We all have read and heard and even experienced multiple projects around us that are delayed beyond reasonable time limit and due to utter callousness of the agencies. There was a tremendous change in this attitude post-2014 where fresh energy and enthusiasm was injected into the system by the then-new Narendra Modi government followed by the Maharashtra state government led by Devendra Fadnavis.
A wave of transparency and accountability seems to have crept in. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that, today the people expect the government to perform and deliver. They are holding them accountable at every step. There is no chance for the state government to falter and they are on their toes to deliver on their promises. Yet we see a lot of projects getting stuck for some or the other reason. This time though it’s not the attitude of the authorities or the politicians but the age-old NGO/Civil Society/Activist network which are rushing to the courts to obtain stay orders. One such case is the Mumbai Aarey Colony Metro Shed.
Quick and Verifiable Facts Regarding Mumbai Metro 3
Mumbai Metro is an ambitious infrastructure project which attempts to connect every nook and corner of the city. A city clogged with traffic and people this comes as a mode of quick, safe and cheap transit. The state government aided by the Central government has undertaken this ambitious project as if they are in a war. The war is for providing a better lifestyle to the hardworking Mumbaikars. Facts mention that at least 10 commuters die daily on the railway tracks having fallen off the local trains. Mumbai locals are working on thrice their actual capacity and are massively clogged as of now. This city deserves a better infrastructure. Mumbai Metro solves this problem. By reducing vehicular traffic the metro de-clogs the roads and an independent UNFCC study points to the fact that it shall reduce CO2emission by 2.6 lakh metric tons every year.
Extremely important to note that Sanjay Gandhi Nation Park is spread over 11,687 Hectare whereas Aarey Colony in 1287 Hectare. Out of the 1287 hectare, the metro car shed will be only built on 30 Hectare of Aarey land and even within that 5 Hectare has been kept intact for greenery. So in a nutshell, only 2% area of the entire Aarey Colony will be utilized for the proposed metro car shed.
Not just that this metro line 3 shall reduce 6.65 lakh vehicular trips per day and an overall reduction in fuel consumption by 3.54 lakh litres per day! The current status of the project is pretty impressive too. While 61% of tunnelling being already completed the station work has achieved 40% of completion status. The Government has already incurred 11,198 cr of expenditure on this project while awarding 10 contracts to specialised systems agencies.
Present Protests and their background
The current agitation being led by Bollywood actors, activists, NGO’s and few citizens is primarily with the shed being constructed under the Metro 3 project. I am convinced that a lot of protesters are not aware of the actual facts and are being misled by the NGO brigade with half trusts and complete lies and this article is to share the reality with them. I would like to address them because while engaging in debates some of the people have mentioned that they are not “opposed” to the idea of Mumbai metro but only to the construction of the metro shed 3 at the “Aarey Forest” which are the “lungs” of Mumbai etc.
The Protestors argue that the present government is killing the lungs of the city and destroying forests and that the move is anti-environment. So let me break it to you, this same government has planted 33 crore trees in the last 5 years and that should make one question why would they be so hell-bent on “destroying” a forest but why should one let facts come between a good emotional story?
The amusing part is that “Aarey” is not even a forest, it is grazing land. I am not saying this the Bombay High Court has passed a judgment to that effect. Further, the notification with regards to reservation of the car shed area in Aarey Milk Colony is also legally tenable and well settled at the HC. Protesters first need to refer to the judgment passed by the Hon’ble HC in a petition filed by Amrita Bhattacharjee & others in Writ Petition no. 2766 of 2017.
So this kind of blatant misinformation campaign needs a point by point rebuttal.
The Truth V/s Hype
Hype No. 1:
Adivasis & Leopards will be displaced. Car shed is located on the catchment area of mithai river and concentration of this area will increase flooding in this area. It will affect the water table as car shed area won’t allowing soaking of the rainwater which it does now.
There are no leopards in this Car shed area. There are absolutely no adivasis in this area. I don’t know where these people are able to spot leopards in an area which has 3 arterial roads surrounding it which carry 1 lakh vehicles per day. This is so amusing. The depot site is unpaved in 75% of its area I.e. 22.5 hectares which won’t stop the rainwater to directly seep into the ground. All waterways are channelised within the depot towards the Mithi river and the same is as per the approved plans. people are being made to believe that 7.5HA of the paved area will lead to flooding. If this isn’t classic fear-mongering then what is?
Hype No. 2:
The expert committee which recommended this site for car shed was provided with fake data on the alternate sites
The idea of having an alternate site was decided by none other than the Supreme Court in IA No. 33819 of 2019 and SLP No. 31178 of 2018. Do these protesters now not even trust the highest courts in the country? Should the people trust these people holding placards and not constitutional bodies?
Land at Kanjurmarg is owned by private landowners and have obtained stay since 1996. So this was land was never available for the proposed Car Shed. Furthermore, it is 10 Kms away from SEEPZ which makes alignment 45kms. There were other sites like Backbay, MPT, Sariput Nagar were considered but these land pieces were not at either end of alignment also there were lots of technical and environmental issues.
Hype No. 3:
The Metro Car shed requires only 9 to 12 Ha land and not 30 Ha. This can be made available anywhere across the City.
An 8 coach line given its frequency and capacity requirement needs about 21 Ha of land. It cannot be fitted into 9 to 12 Ha of land as is being claimed by the activists. Have they come up with their own design to substantiate their claims? The government has hired independent third parties to get these designs made which are not only utilitarian but also specially optimised. The government has retained 5 Ha of extra land for the green cover buffer and 4 Ha. Of land will be used for the mainline function and train station.
Hype No. 4:
Mumbai Metro Line 1 has not had any impact on congestion and traffic and nowhere across the country has a metro help reduce car traffic.
4 lakh people travel by Mumbai Metro Line 1 daily. Does this count as a reduction in the number of vehicles on the road? Shouldn’t the activist’s ask the people travelling between Andheri and Ghatkopar if their travel time and car usage has reduced or not? I feel opposition needs little weight in their arguments at least. This line reduces travel time to 17 minutes for a journey that takes 70 minutes by car. Now imagine the impact when the entire city gets connected.
Hype No. 5:
We don’t oppose the metro but the car shed must not come up at Aarey
Metro is not just about pillars railways and metro cars and stations. There is a whole lot of other infrastructure that goes into it. A metro line cannot function without a car shed. In fact this car shed must be built in advance so that the bare shell cars can be worked upon and they can be fitted with required electrical and electronics to make them functional. The cars then are then tested at the car shed and then introduced into the mainline for usage. As the project is an integrated one any delay in the car shed work delays the project and also any opposition to this particular infrastructure is nothing but opposition to the very idea of the metro.
There are 3691 trees in Metro 3 depot land out of which 461 trees are to be transplanted and 2185 trees are to be cut and 13110 trees will be planted. It is important to note that these 3691 trees occupy approximately 17% of the total land that the Metro 3 project will be built upon(30 Ha.).
Per day of protests by these people is causing us
- 685 metric tonnes of vehicular CO2 emissions per day
- INR 4.2 cr increase in cost per day
- loss of 2 lakh project man-hours
- 5 lakh worth vehicle road space loss
- 5 lakh hours of time loss for the citizens which means 30 minutes of extra travel per commuter.
Whereas the Metro will achieve
- 197 trips of the metro will compensate for the rise of 63,953 kg/yr rise in CO2 due to loss of impacted trees. This is equivalent to 4 days of peak hour trips in a year.
- Lifetime CO2 increase due to impacted trees will be compensated by 3948 metro trips in about 80 days!
It is now a fight between the New India and the old cabal, its truth v/s hype, its facts v/s fiction and its ultimately between the dreams and aspirations of the Mumbaikars and fight for status quo by the old establishment. The choice is yours.
Dhaval Patel is a Project Management Consultant based out of Mumbai. He holds interest in Bollywood, Entertainment Industry, Politics and Public policy.