Protest fails to make waves; Mumbai’s coastal road stays on course
Even as citizens and fisherfolk continue to object to reclamation from sea for the ₹14,000-crore coastal road project, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday started the piling work at Girgaum Chowpatty to create the exit point for the 11 metre tunnel which will open at Priyadarshini Park.
A day after residents of Breach Candy, Warden Road and nearby areas objected to the reclamation work being carried out at night, citizens planned to hold a rally from Priyadarshini Park to Tata Gardens on Sunday. Zoru Bhatena, who is leading the protest, said, “The reclamation is not only destroying the sea, but will also lead to flooding in the future. The civic body should look to develop an extended sea link from Worli to Marine Drive, instead of reclaiming the sea. We want maximum Mumbaiites to join the protest.”
Fishermen, too, have joined in. “In December, BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta had promised that a committee comprising fishermen and experts would be formed to look into our issues. The reclamation at Worli is destroying the fish breeding sites,” said Damodar Tandel, president, Akhil Maharashtra Machimar Kriti Samiti, adding, “The report from the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, which is vital to gauge the extent of environmental damage, is awaited.”
The reclaimed land at Girgaum Chowpatty will be used to launch the shaft for the tunnel-boring machine. “The civic body has placed an order for the machine, and it is expected to arrive by September. We will take up to three months to put the machine together. Construction of the tunnel will start by January 2020,” said a senior civic officer of the coastal road department. “The BMC has got all relevant permissions and no-objection letters from the environment ministry. We have got 18 permissions, the last one in May 2017. We have ensured no breeding spots are destroyed. The coastal road will not require private land. To avoid traffic congestion, we move trucks only at night.”