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At last, light is seen at the end of the tunnel

The concern for protecting environment is understandable; but should there be unconcern for the rule of law and benefits to 14 lakh commuters?

Recently There was widespread agitation in Mumbai against the location of the maintenance shed for the Mumbai Metro-3 project at the government-owned Aarey Milk property. There was the familiar tussle between development and environmental issues. While the concern and the passion for protecting the environment are understandable, sadly there is the unconcern for the rule of law.

Look at the following facts: the metro corporation had evaluated the economics of the alignment and the location of the shed on a sound scientific basis. The clearance was also obtained from the environmental angle. The Fadnavis government analysed the objections raised by environmentalists and appointed a high-power committee that cleared the construction. After an elected government responsible to the citizens was firm about the decision, environmental activists persisted to continue with their stand and took it to the court. The Bombay High Court again cleared the project and in unequivocal terms upheld the decision of the government. But the activists resorted to even stronger protests and urged the government to wait for the decision of the Supreme Court.

News channels revel in conflicts

News television channels revel in highlighting controversies. With the perceived media dharma, they present supporters of both sides and allow them to shout at their loudest with increasing vehemence. With elections to the state assembly in October, as could be expected, all political parties including BJP’s ally Shiv Sena, jumped into the fray.

The Maharashtra government, already worried over the delays suffered and the prospects for huge time and cost overruns, acted with speed and cleared the shed area of the 2700 trees in a remarkably quick time, working round-the-clock. Should it sleep overnight to oblige the activists?

The benefits to the commoner

Aarey is located near SEEPZ, the last station on the 33.5 km Colaba-SEEPZ line. The proposed depot is easily accessible, operation wise.

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) proposed to construct the car shed over 33 hectares, which is merely 2.6 per cent of the entire 1278 hectares. MMRCL has felled trees on only 17 per cent of the land earmarked for the car shed. Finally, MMRCL has come up with its own defense, citing environmental benefits by reducing overall carbon footprint (seven days of metro rail operated is projected to cut carbon dioxide equivalent to the CO2 2700 trees absorbing in a year).

The Supreme Court stayed further cutting and the government’s solicitor general instantly agreed as the mission had been accomplished. Of course, the environmentalists now cry hoarse and demand punishing the officials for acting with such speed!

Look at the essential aspect of democratic functioning when several lakhs [about 1.39 million] of commuters will be the beneficiaries of the metro rail system.

You are naïve, building consensus is impossible

Surely one should be totally naïve or stupid to expect the BJP to succeed in building consensus with opposition parties that are opposed to it.

Don’t we see the parallel in every other case including the Kashmir issue? Do they want us to believe in BJP succeeding in building such a consensus among National Conference, PDP, and Congress?

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