Aerial images show coastal road reclamation far beyond requirement: Environmentalist to SC
The affidavit cited a series of aerial images of the reclamation through mud and debris dumping and added it has gone far beyond what was required for the roadUpdated: Sep 29, 2020, 10:10 IST
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has allegedly undertaken more land reclamation for a road project in Mumbai than it was supposed to and damaged the city’s coastline in violation of Supreme Court orders, an environmental group has told the top court. NGO Conservation Action Trust (CAT) on Monday filed an affidavit requesting the court to stop BMC from further reclamation.
The affidavit cited a series of aerial images of the reclamation through mud and debris dumping and added it has gone far beyond what was required for the road.
The Supreme Court in December 2019 put on hold the Bombay high court’s July 2019 order quashing coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearances to the civic body. It allowed the reclamation but restricted BMC from carrying out any other development work. “The petitioners are free to reclaim the land, build the road thereon, and secure the road. They shall however not carry out any other development work until further orders of this court,” the Supreme Court said.
CAT’s executive trustee, Debi Goenka, said the depth and the width of the reclamation demonstrated that the Supreme Court order has been allegedly ignored and caused irreparable damage to Mumbai’s coastline. “We have attached photographs along Priyadarshini Park, Cumbala Hill, and Breach Candy area all showing illegal reclamation.”
“This excessive reclamation has already caused severe and irreversible harm to the Mumbai coastline, and remaining areas need to be protected urgently.”
The Supreme Court will again hear the matter on Wednesday.
BMC’s chief engineer (coastal road project), Niranjan Khanolkar, dismissed the allegations as baseless and insisted they have only reclaimed 52 ha of the approved 90 ha cleared under the CRZ since March in South Mumbai for the 9.9-km Rs 14,000-crore eight-lane road project. “While we have requested the SC [Supreme Court] and the Centre for approval to reclaim an additional 21 ha, it will only commence once we complete the first 90 ha followed by permissions from the Union environment ministry.”
Goenka said BMC’s reclamation work was in violation of its submissions before the Supreme Court and conditions for CRZ clearance. “BMC had assured the SC that it would only commence reclamation after clearances under the Wildlife Protection Act (WLPA), which it does not have at the moment. Secondly, the CRZ clearance stipulated that no work could commence without wildlife clearance due to the presence of corals [protected under the WLPA) and other marine biodiversity.”
BMC on September 3 applied for wildlife clearance and submitted a proposal to move 18 coral colonies for further reclamation.
HT on September 21 reported the Maharashtra forest department has temporarily stalled the clearance until the clarification of specific details.
Khanolkar said they have submitted all required documents and maps for the project and brought on record the proposed plan for coral translocation. “Our plan is to complete this translocation and commence with reclamation across ecologically-sensitive zones by mid-October.”
Divisional forest officer (Mangrove Cell) DR Patil said they have received the revised list of documents from BMC and it will take them at least a week to examine the material, assess impacts, and make a recommendation. “Following this, the proposal will be vetted by the Mangrove Cell head and finally the chief wildlife warden in Nagpur. The process will take time.”