The Bombay high court on Wednesday cleared the decks for a much-anticipated international powerboat race off Marine Drive, scheduled to be held from March 3 to March 5.
A bench of justices VM Kanade and PR Bora also criticised chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for not granting permission for the event. They asked Fadnavis what his “claims to globalisation and ‘Make in India’ were worth,” if he failed to rise above “petty disputes” even on an international event of such stature.
The bench also told off the BMC, which had said it was worried about the proposed construction of temporary structures at Marine Drive and Girgaum Chowpatty. Justice Kanade said, “The whole of Mumbai hosts extensive unauthorised construction. But one international event and the construction of temporary structures for just about two days makes the BMC suddenly very conscious of its responsibilities.”
The court was hearing a plea filed by Procam International Pvt Ltd, an international sporting events company that has organised the race, dubbed the Indian Grand of the Seas. Seven teams will compete on a 5.2-km course off Marine Drive. For this, Procam needs to build a stage, a temporary jetty or pathway into the sea at Marine Drive, and set up tents or portable cabins to provide medical aid.
Though it revised its construction plans to suit the authorities, a high-court-appointed committee on Wednesday denied permission for Procam to build temporary structures along Marine Drive, while saying nothing about those planned at chowpatty. The city collector and the BMC have also refused help, even though the company has permission from the Indian Navy, Bombay Port Trust, maritime authorities and others.
The committee’s decision came even as Justice Kanade observed that its mandate was to prevent the destruction of the chowpatty area and not to prohibit social events altogether. He asked the state why it was depriving Mumbai of such an event, which was likely to generate tourism.
“The committee is an independent body and if you (the state government) had doubts, why did you not consult the court instead of forcing the petitioner to approach the court? The CM’s conduct is shocking. Is this how the collector and the CM function?” the bench said. “Even the Government of India proposes to construct various sites along the sea to attract tourists. A reputed event like the one in question will not damage chowpatty and instead help tourism,” the bench said.