BMC risking lives by continuing Coastal Road work: Citizens’ group
A citizens’ group has issued a legal notice against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), alleging that they are risking the lives of Mumbaiites by continuing the Coastal Road construction work, despite the Covid-19 lockdown in place.
The notice was issued on Wednesday and circulated on Friday by Save Our Coast, Mumbai, a group of citizens from Nepean Sea Road, Bhulabhai Desai Road, Haji Ali, Worli and other areas of Mumbai. HT has a copy of the notice.
The 9.9-km current phase of the Coastal Road project, proposed at Rs 12,969 crore, is to be an eight-lane highway which will connect Marine Drive to the southern end of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link.
The BMC said it was carrying out pre-monsoon work including sea wall construction and completing reclamation and bringing activities to a ‘safe stage’ to ensure there was no flooding during monsoon. “We aim to complete all work by last week of May. We already lost precious time in February and March due to the coronavirus outbreak as we failed to procure crucial equipment from China. Now, massive armour rocks and boulders are being brought from quarries for remaining reclamation work,” said Jayashree Bhoj, additional municipal commissioner.
Attaching pictures, the notice claimed that the work was in violation of several sections of the Indian Penal Code, Disaster Management Act (DMA), 2005, and orders passed by the Centre and state. The notice, filed through lawyer Karma Vivan, called for immediate termination of construction activity, failing which both civil and criminal proceedings would be initiated against the civic body. “In the context of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and the DMA, the word ‘essential’ can only be understood to mean something that is required to be done for the safety of the citizens. The ongoing work is not of the nature that will protect the area from flooding. Therefore, the argument that this work is essential is a fallacious one,” stated the notice, adding that bus-loads of labourers were being brought to the site posed a high risk. “Moreover, requiring labourers to work even during the lockdown, endangers their safety and of millions in the city.”
Bhoj countered the allegations. “The health checkup for all workers has been done. They have been provided personal protective equipment (PPE), are following social distancing norms and using sanitisers regularly. Even though we want more labourers, they are not available. We are making do with the numbers we have,” said Bhoj.
The work not only includes completing reclamation but also conducting testing work for the bridge which will connect to the Bandra Worli Sea Link road. “This cannot be classified as essential pre-monsoon construction work. Also, we need to be careful about several contaiment zones in Worli, especially the Koliwada area. Partially completed reclamation work poses losses to the contractors. It is not a risk to the safety of residents,” said Shweta Wagh, petitioner before the Supreme Court who is challenging the Coastal Road project construction.