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Sunday, Dec 08, 2019

Bombay high court stops BMC’s Rs14,000-crore coastal road project, civic body to move SC

Coast not clear for BMC’s Rs14,000-crore project, civic body to move SC

mumbai Updated: Jul 17, 2019 07:33 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman
Tanushree Venkatraman
Hindustan Times
A view of the reclamation work done at Breach Candy for the coastal road  in May this year.
A view of the reclamation work done at Breach Candy for the coastal road in May this year. (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)
         

The Bombay high court’s (HC) decision to quash the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearances granted to the coastal road project comes as a huge setback for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

While the civic body will approach the Apex Court, officials said that the project could be delayed by approximately six months and incur financial losses because of the delay.

On Monday, a division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice NM Jamdar held that work on the coastal road project has been carried out without the requisite permissions.

Allowing the petitions moved by city-based architect Shweta Wagh and eight other petitioners, the bench held that an environment clearance (EC) is mandatory for the project and until this is procured, no further work may be carried out by the BMC.

Additional municipal commissioner and in-charge of the coastal road project Vijay Singhal said, “We made a strong case in the high court, but since a few of our points have not been considered, we will file a petition in the Supreme Court immediately.”

BMC officials, who requested anonymity, said that they had not sought an EC because the coastal road is an inter-city road.

“Under the roads category, an EC is required for highways more than 10 kms,” an official said. However, the petitioners argued that the project requires a clearance.

Activist Zoru Bhathena also said, “The project lacks a mandatory clearance under the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006.”

Officials said that an EC mandate would require the BMC to conduct a public hearing on the project and also prepare an environment impact assessment report.

This is likely to delay the project by six months minimum.

“About 5% of the work has been completed. The contractors have also brought in machinery and started work, so we will definitely face financial losses too,” the official said.

The earlier deadline for the 29.98km coastal project was 2022.

“We have not received copy of the Bombay high court order. Only after going through it, I will be able to say what role the state government can play in this matter as the coastal project is of the BMC,” said Nitin Kareer, principal secretary, state urban development department.

City environmentalists and transport experts who have been opposing the project were happy with the HC verdict.

Wagh, a faculty member of Kamala Raheja College of Architecture, said, “We are very pleased with the judgement, as the BMC cannot continue work on the project now.”

“The court has not only acknowledged that the project did not have the requisite permissions, but also the impact that the massive road would have on the eco-biodiversity along the Mumbai coast,” Wagh said.