IMS only in patch without env issues: Gadkari | Nagpur News
Nagpur: Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has said that the Ajni Intermodal Station (IMS) project in Ajni will be limited to 40-47 hectares of land along the railway line. “The project on this patch is free from environmental concerns. The rest of the area that has been objected to will be left out from now on,” Gadkari told TOI on the sidelines of a book launch on Friday.
“But even after that, if there is a dispute against the project, I will completely abandon the plan,” he said.
Almost a week ago, Gadkari said he might abandon the project “because the citizens don’t want it”. About 40,000 ancient trees had to be felled for the project. The minister had also said that contractor IMS had already canceled the project and sent a termination letter to NHAI “due to legal entanglements”.
On Friday, seven industry and trade associations announced their support for the project. The associations specified that they only supported the first phase of the project.
The town’s deputy said the land that has now been chosen to proceed with the project is free from controversy. “For later phases of the project, the central prison and the FCI area could be moved,” he said, but later clarified that the second phase was only at the planning stage and that there is still a long way to go. “Even permission from the state government will be needed for the move,” he said.
Earlier during the speech at the book launch, he said citizens should have a sense of belonging to the city. “Sometimes these works cannot start because of the objections of a handful of people. In fact, there should be a website where all citizens can register their comments,” he said.
“I could build highways in record time, but a small road near my home in Mahal took six years to build as it remains entangled in litigation,” he said.
Gadkari even said he was concerned about the environment. Despite a Supreme Court order to cut down 2.5 lakh trees for projects in Uttarakhand, Gadkari said he ordered the trees not to be cut down. “Instead, every tree would be replanted,” he said.
“Even I work on environmentally friendly projects. The green hydrogen vehicle is one of them,” he said.
Addressing a joint press conference on Friday, heads of industry and trade associations hit back at the term “Ajni Vann” coined by environmentalists for the region. “The word Vann refers to a forest, and there is none here,” they said.
Support was offered by Butibori Manufacturers Association (BMA), Nagpur Chamber of Commerce Limited (NCCL), Nag Vidarbha Chamber of Commerce (NVCC), Vidarbha Economic Development Council (VED), Vidarbha Industries Association (VIA) Vidarbha Taxpayers Associating (VTA ) and MIDC Industries Association (MIA). Two associations Maha Vidarbha Janjagaran and Vidarbha Defense Industries Association (VIA) also expressed their solidarity.
Claiming there is only one group of trees, the associations have offered a satellite image from 1965 which they say was obtained by “concerned citizen” Alok Patel. It was taken by the CORONA series of spy satellites.
They said the black and white image shows a sparsely vegetated area with structures dotting the landscape. Business leaders claimed that even the Central Jail was clearly visible. With this, it has been argued that the vegetation called Ajni Vann only appeared in the last few years.
The area had a railway settlement and trees that may have to be felled for the project were not planted by residents until later, said business leaders who also claimed there were only 4,900 trees in the area against the figure of 40,000. given by environmentalists.
The support also came with a splash of appreciation for Gadkari’s work citing examples like the Zojila Tunnel and other projects he has undertaken. It was also clarified that the associations were not affiliated with any political party.
Responding to a question, the leaders said that they did not take the view of all their members because the position of the office bearers was sufficient.
The joint statement was that they all support green coverage, but a key project like IMS cannot be ignored.
It was also pointed out that Khapri, as suggested by environmentalists, cannot be the alternative site as the IMS had to be in the middle of the town. “Only because of its location in Ajni, the IMS would provide fast connectivity to all corners of the city,” they said.
They said the IMS would even benefit the environment by reducing vehicle pollution through an efficient mode of public transport. Industrialists said it would become an efficient mode of transport for workers to reach Butibori and Hingna.
“Trees can be transplanted,” they said while claiming that Nagpur Metro had done so successfully.