No green signal for Metro II car depots


By Ketagi Ghoge

The second corridor of the Mumbai Metro, which will connect Charkop to Mankhurd, could get delayed over environmental clearances. In June, the central expert appraisal committee on Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) and infrastructure projects okayed, with riders, the construction of car depots for Metro rakes at both ends of the 32-km route.

Three months later, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which is executing the project, requested the committee for amendments. However, the committee has refused to relax these conditions [see box].

The minutes of the committee’s July meeting, which were released this month, noted: “They [MMRDA] had informed that the facility will be only for night halting of the trains and there will be no washing/repair activities in CRZ area. It was also submitted that within CRZ area, the car decks will be constructed with gaps. The present proposal is totally against their earlier submissions and not justified.”

In keeping with one of the conditions laid down earlier, the expert committee maintained that carrying out any kind of repair or washing in CRZ II area would not be practically possible given that the area was too narrow.

With the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) closing its doors on any amendment, the MMRDA may be forced to shift car depots — requiring 19,69 hectares at Charkop and 24 hectares at Mankhurd — out of the CRZ II region.

“We are examining this possibility. We will also see if we can  convince the MoEF again. Any change will come at a cost,” admitted additional metropolitan commissioner SVR Srinivasan.

He, however, insisted that environmental clearances had not delayed the project. “We used this time for completing essential work like geo-technical survey, which for the first corridor, was done much later.” Sources, though, said that a delay is likely, since acquiring land out of the CRZ II region would be a difficult task.