After facing objections from environmentalists, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has come out with a clarification on Wednesday citing that there will be no widening of road and felling of trees while concretising and repairing roads in the Aarey colony.
The clarification issued by the Mumbai civic body contradicts the tender condition, raising doubts over the issue.
"The tender for the work of improvement of Aarey colony main road from the Western Express Highway to Morarji Nagar has been invited by the BMC. The scope of work includes improvement of the existing road for the available width in cement concrete. There is no proposal for the widening of the existing asphalt road. During the improvement of the road, due care will be taken to protect existing trees and the adjoining Aarey forestry. Necessary mitigation measures will be taken care of as per the direction of the Chief Conservator of Forest," stated an official statement released by the BMC on Wednesday late evening.
The civic corporation’s plan to upgrade the main road cutting through the Aarey Milk Colony had upset green activists. Environmentalist Zoru Bhatena said that the civic body is trying to convert the two-lane thoroughfare into four lanes under the pretext of concretisation, which will lead to loss of green cover.
Bhathena has raised his objections in a letter to the BMC chief earlier this month, who is also the chairman of the SGNP ESZ Monitoring Committee, and a host of state and central officials. Citing the ESZ Notification, the letter says till a zonal master plan is prepared for Aarey and is cleared by the authorities, “traffic shall be regulated in a habitat friendly manner”.
Bhathena said he raised the objections after BMC’s deputy chief engineer (Roads -western suburbs) announced a plan on October 4 to “improve” the main road passing through Aarey.
"There is no plan to increase the width of the road. Cement concreting will help rid potholes and damage on the roads. No trees will be cut down while improving the said road. Therefore, we will take full care that there will be no damage to the forest resources in the Aarey colony area," said an official from the BMC's road department."
After the Mumbai civic body issued a clarification on Wednesday evening, Bhatena asked: " Existing road is 7m wide and the tender is floated for 9m wide and cost of the project with the improvement of 9 m wide road as per tender is Rs. 46.75 crores. So if work done will be only on improving the 7m wide road, that would mean 22 per cent less work will be done than the tender requirement. Will the BMC reduce the cost, or still pay for 9m road improvement work?"