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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Stop reclamation for Mumbai’s Coastal Road till April 23: HC

The bench directed BMC to also refrain from taking “any further steps” in areas between Worli sea face and the Worli-end of the sea link

mumbai Updated: Apr 12, 2019 01:03 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
A group of city activists had said the reclamation work was contrary to environmental laws and would “irreversibly damage the coastal morphology of Mumbai”.
A group of city activists had said the reclamation work was contrary to environmental laws and would “irreversibly damage the coastal morphology of Mumbai”.(HT File )
         

The ₹14,000-crore Coastal Road project is set to be delayed after the Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday restrained the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) from carrying out further land reclamation till April 23.

BMC is the nodal agency for the 29.2-km project, which is expected to improve north-south connectivity and help unclog the western express highway and other arterial roads.

Thursday’s order came while the HC was hearing two separate petitions filed by a group of activists and a non-governmental organisation (NGO) — Society for Improvement of Greenery and Nature — raising environmental and ecological concerns about the project.

The division bench of chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Nitin Jamdar directed the BMC to also refrain from taking “any further steps” in areas between Worli sea face and the Worli-end of the sea link, where dumping has already been done.

“Don’t undertake any new reclamation. Wherever dumping has taken place, the damage has been done. Take no further steps in these areas,” the bench told BMC’s counsel, Anil Sakhare.

A group of city activists, led by architect Shweta Wagh, had said the reclamation work was contrary to environmental laws and would “irreversibly damage the coastal morphology of Mumbai”.

Sakhare, however, countered the claim and said around 70% of today’s Mumbai is reclaimed. He said the reclamation work at Worli sea face had last been done in the 1920s.

HT had earlier this month reported about a marine biodiversity report by SagarShakti that had said the Coastal Road project was a direct threat to 36 intertidal marine species that thrive on the Worli shoreline. These species include snails, crabs, oysters, corals, sponges, octopus, sea fans, snappers, mussels, shrimps and rays, among others.

Meanwhile, the petition filed by Society for Improvement of Greenery and Nature expressed concerns about the loss of green cover the project would cause to the Tata Gardens on Bhulabhai Desai Road in south Mumbai, as BMC wants to cut 200 trees from the garden.

The NGO’s counsel, Janak Dwarkadas, said the damage to the garden can be averted by using an open plot of land near Scandal Point for the project. In reponse, the bench said it was a “simple suggestion that will appeal to any logical mind”.

Sakhare assured the court that BMC would take the petitioner’s suggestion into consideration and not cut any trees at Tata Gardens until further notice. He further pointed out that all issues raised in the petitions were pending consideration of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), where a plea challenging the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance for the project was pending.

Vijay Singhal, additional municipal commissioner, in charge of the Coastal Road project, said the civic body has all permissions in place. “We will bring it to the notice of the high court. The work is of very important nature and has to continue. We will follow the directions of the court regarding reclamation and tree-cutting until further hearing. The court said [project-related] work can continue otherwise,” he said.

First Published: Apr 12, 2019 01:03 IST

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