The Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra leaves no opportunity to play petty politics even if it takes to compromise on the development of its state. Just two days after the Bombay High Court (HC) ordered an interim stay on the transfer of a 102-acre land in Kanjurmarg to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for an integrated Metro car shed, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has now suggested that it is eyeing at the land allotted for Centre’s ambitious bullet train project in Mumbai if Kanjurmarg metro car shed project is stopped.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi government is considering using a plot of land in the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) that had been set aside to be the originating point for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train. Confirming the news, Chief secretary Sanjay Kumar said: “The Kanjurmarg plot, where the car shed is being planned, is entangled in a legal process, which will take time. Hence, it has been proposed to examine the technical feasibility of the BKC plot. Based on the findings of Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL), the state government will take the further decision,” Kumar said.
Bandra-Kurla Complex will increase the cost by several times
It may be noted that while deciding on the location for the metro car shed, the Bandra-Kurla Complex site was also considered, but it was rejected as the site is one of the prime commercial land in Mumbai fetching very high value. Former CM Devendra Fadnavis said that talks of setting up the Mumbai Metro 3 car shed at Bandra Kurla Complex are “ridiculous and childish” as it will increase the project cost multiple times. He said that such a move will increase the annual maintenance cost by five folds and also make the Metro venture non-feasible and non-starter.
He noted that last land sold at BKC was at the rate of Rs 1,800 crore per hectare, and as 25-hectare land will be required for the car shed, it would cost Rs 25,000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore. He said that due to the cost of land at that location, the bullet train station will be built three-level below ground, hence the land above will be available for commercial use. The proposed International Finance Centre (IFC) will be built above the bullet train station.
It may be noted that last year Japanese company Sumitomo had bought a three-acre plot for Rs 2,238 crore. Taking this rate, the 61 hectares (25 acres) needed for the metro car shed will be worth around Rs 45,000 crore, even more than the estimate by Fadnavis. This will be a far cry from the claim of Shiv Sena that relocating the project will not increase the cost.
Shiv Sena Govt’s decision leaves BJP govt furious
This decision of the Maha Aghadi government in Maharashtra has left the BJP government infuriated. BJP MLA Ashish Shelar slammed the Shiv Sena government saying that more than the construction of Metro car shed Uddhav Thackeray and his government is busy looking for opportunities to stall the Centre’s proposed bullet train project.
बीकेसी में मेट्रो कार शेड का प्रस्ताव देने में शिवसेना सरकार का कू हेतू है, यह मुंबई के विकास का सबसे बड़ा घाव होगा! pic.twitter.com/FlUIQcExGZ— Adv. Ashish Shelar – ॲड. आशिष शेलार (@ShelarAshish) December 18, 2020
“The ego of an arrogant king and a luxurious prince is greater than every development project of Mumbaikars,” said Shelar taking an indirect dig at Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aditya Thackeray. Claiming that the development of Mumbai was being compromised due to the duo’s personal ego, Shelar added, “Not the opposition, they are the stumbling block in the development of Mumbai”.
Moreover, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis also tore into the Maha Aghadi government claiming that the people of Maharashtra want the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project but the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government led by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray does not.
“Now, after the coronavirus pandemic, how much will it benefit the people of Maharashtra? All material used will be from Maharashtra. Jobs would have been created. Only Maharashtra and the people of Maharashtra will get benefits from it,” the BJP leader said, furthering that the project would bring Rs 50,000 crores of investment in Maharashtra.
Bombay HC stays Kanjurmarg Metro car shed work
It is pertinent to note here that the Bombay High Court passed an interim order Wednesday, staying the October 1 order by Mumbai Suburban District Collector that transferred 102 acres of land to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to build a Metro car shed. The HC was hearing a petition filed by the Centre, which has claimed the land belonged to it. Adding that it would hear this case along with the Centre’s plea on the said land in February, the Bombay HC had directed the Maha Aghadi govt to stop work on the project.
In October the Uddhav Thackeray government had alloted this plot at Kanjurmarg for the Metro car shed project. This was after it scrapped the proposed car shed at the Aarey Milk Colony immediately after coming to power.
The 102 acre land at Kanjurmarg is actually owned by Salt Commissioner
While transferring this 102 acres of land at Kanjurmarg to the MMRDA, and the state govt had claimed that it owns the land hence it has the right to transfer the land for the metro car shed. But according to centre, that is not correct, as the land is actually owned by Salt Commissioner, which reports to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) of the union govt. Moreover, the land was transferred violating norms, as while the MMRDA had applied to DPIIT for allotment of the land, the state govt transferred it without waiting for a response by DPIIT.
Amidst all this, the one person who seemed quite excited with Maha Aghadi Government’s misdemeanors is none other than the ‘neutral’ journalist and the chief of the Editors Guild of India, Shekhar Gupta.
The thought that Modi government’s efforts could be impeded by the Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra was enough to make Gupta ecstatic. He opined that the entire fiasco was becoming “fun by the day”.