Uddhav Thackeray announces stay on Aarey metro car shed construction
Mumbai, Nov 29: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday announced a stay to the construction of metro car shed in the city's green lung Aarey Colony, where strong protests had erupted last month against cutting of trees for the work. He, however, clarified that he had not stayed the work of the Mumbai metro rail project itself.
Thackeray, who is heading a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition, was sworn in on Thursday. Then BJP-led government in Maharashtra had come under fire from green activists in October when over 2,000 trees were felled for a car shed, to be constructed in Aarey Colony which is adjacent to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
The Shiv Sena, then junior partner in the Devendra Fadnavis government, had opposed the felling of trees. "I have stayed Aarey crashed work. I will review the entire thing...I will not allow a culture where trees are cut at night," Thackeray told reporters. "Not a single tree leaf will be cut till further orders," he added.
A Supreme Court bench had last month sought a status report with pictures on plantation, transplantation and felling of trees in Aarey colony area. The Bombay High Court had on October 4 refused to declare Aarey Colony a forest and declined to quash the Mumbai municipal corporation's decision to allow felling of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro car shed.
Hours after the court gave a go-ahead, trees were cut at night, fueling outrage. During an interaction with the media at the press room of the state secretariat, Thackeray also said he became chief minister unexpectedly, but he didn't want to run away from the responsibility.
He took a dig at his predecessor, Fadnavis, over the latter's "I will come again (as chief minister)" refrain during the poll campaign, saying, "I didn't announce that I will become chief minister." The Shiv Sena president, who was accompanied by his son and MLA Aaditya, also noted that he is the first chief minister of Maharashtra who was born in Mumbai, and added that he is working on plans to ensure the development of the city. His government will be accountable for every paisa of tax-payers, the chief minister said.
Asked about the saffron kurta he was wearing, Thackeray said, cryptically, that it was his favourite colour "which cannot get washed in any laundry". The BJP had aimed barbs at the Sena after it joined hands with the Congress-NCP, questioning its commitment to Hindutva. Thackeray also avoided direct reply to the question whether he will shift to Varsha', the official bungalow of chief minister in south Mumbai, from his residence Matoshree' in suburban Bandra. He will do "whatever it takes to meet people and solve their problems", he said.