21ha more for Mumbai coastal road: Green panel gives nod
An expert committee of the Union environment ministry has approved an amendment in the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance granted to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s coastal road project
An expert committee of the Union environment ministry has approved an amendment in the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance granted to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s coastal road project. Once ratified by the Centre, this approval will give legal sanctity to the BMC’s move to reclaim an additional 21 hectares (ha) of land for a stretch of coastal road between Marine Lines and Worli.
This was revealed in the minutes of the 257th meeting of the MoEFCC’s expert appraisal committee (EAC) overseeing CRZ clearances, held on March 5. The BMC had, in 2016, stated it will reclaim only 90ha for the project, which got CRZ in May 2017.
However, the BMC subsequently tabled a requirement for another 21ha in two affidavits before the Supreme Court, on August 28 and September 7, 2020, taking the total quantum of reclaimed land to 111ha. It is this additional requirement that has now received the sanction of the EAC. “The committee after detailed deliberations and submissions made by the PP (MCGM) recommended for granting the CRZ clearance,” the minutes state.
Of the 21ha, 14.49ha will be used for building a sea-wall toward the Worli-end of the coastal road, which “had not been factored in” at the time of seeking CRZ in 2016, as per the minutes of the aforesaid meeting (which have been reviewed by Hindustan Times).
The BMC had also tabled a requirement for another 6.51ha for the road in two affidavits before the Supreme Court, on August 28 and September 7, 2020. However, the Supreme Court in October directed the BMC not to undertake reclamation beyond the 90ha, as mandated by the earlier CRZ clearance. Environmentalists pointed out that construction of this partially submerged seawall, which officials say is necessary to protect the road against wave action and erosion, is already underway in variance with the Supreme Court’s directions. “For the EAC to recommend approval now is essentially a post-facto regularisation of work that began without the needed clearances,” said Debi Goenka, executive trustee, Conservation Action Trust and applicant in the matter before the SC.
Goenka also pointed out that the EAC has not, as per the minutes of its March 5 meeting, considered various objections put forward by citizens and interest groups at an MCZMA hearing held last year.
An assistant engineer in the BMC’s coastal roads department who is privy to the development, said, “The added land requirement has not been given CRZ clearance yet, but it is now a step closer to reality. The final step is for the MoEFCC to accept the EAC’s recommendation, after which the additional land requirement will have legal sanctity and the reclamation work on the additional 6ha can proceed.”