No illegalities in coastal road project: BMC to HC
The coastal road project has undergone extensive environmental scrutiny and there are no illegalities, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) told the Bombay high court (HC) on Monday.
The coastal road, part of the eastern freeway plan, will start at Princess Street flyover and end at Worli-end of the Bandra Worli Sea Link. It seeks to cut travel time between south Mumbai and the western suburbs by nearly 70%.
A bench of chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice N M Jamdar was hearing two public interest litigations — one filed by a group of activists and the other by an NGO, Society for Improvement, Greenery and Nature—challenging the project on environmental grounds. Senior advocate Darius Khambata, representing the civic body, was responding to the petitions on Monday.
The coastal road project was scrutinised under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification and the BMC held several public hearings to discuss it, Khambata told the court. He also said the project did not come under the ambit of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006, and hence, did not require clearance under the same.
“There is no illegality that should stop this project,” Khambata said.
Responding to the petitioners’ complaint on reclamation work, Khambata said it is only “incidental and consequential”. He said the purpose of the Coastal Road project is “not to create reclaimed land, but to provide gentle curves for safety of motorists”.
“Reclamation is not a bad word as far as this city is concerned… This city is created on reclaimed land, and it has been developed, [and has] thrived on reclaimed land,” said the senior advocate, adding that sharp curves will pose a threat of accidents along the stretch. Khambata will continue his arguments on Tuesday.
While the group of activists, led by architect Shweta Wagh, had complained that the reclamation work violated environmental laws and will irreversibly damage the coastal morphology of Mumbai, the NGO had expressed concerns about the loss of green cover which will occur if 200 trees in south Mumbai’s Tata Gardens are cut for the project.