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Thane waterfront project began without obtaining all permissions: Petitioner

The Bombay high court has asked the corporation to stop reclaiming and dumping debris in mangrove areas on creek fronts at Saket, Kopri, Mumbra and Gaimukh.

mumbai Updated: Jul 28, 2018 00:52 IST
Megha Pol
Megha Pol
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Thane,Waterfront project
Work on Gaimukh creek beautification had started. The petitioners had said that the project will destroy mangroves and other plants in the area.(Praful Gangurde/HT PHOTO)

The waterfront development project of the Thane Municipal Corporation has hit a major roadblock.

The Bombay high court has asked the corporation to stop reclaiming and dumping debris in mangrove areas on creek fronts at Saket, Kopri, Mumbra and Gaimukh in Thane.

The bench of Justice Abhay Oak and Riyaz Chagla was hearing a petition filed by Thane-based environmentalist Rohit Joshi and Vanshakti. The petitioners have claimed that the project does not have Maritime Board permission and is violating coastal regulatory zone norms.

The petitioners had said the recent flooding near Gaimukh along Ghodbunder Road was due to reclamation of the waterfronts. They had claimed that the project would lead to flooding in the entire city. The petition has also raised the issue of mangrove destruction, land grabbing and displacing the livelihood of locals.

Mani Prakash, lawyer of the petitioner, said, “The petition was first admitted for hearing on July 25. The court sought instructions from the municipal corporation if they are dumping or reclaiming the mangrove land along the creek under the waterfront development project. The TMC first denied it. However, we showed them photographs. In the hearing held on July 26, the corporation admitted they had reclaimed the creek for the project. The court has passed a stay on the work of reclaiming and dumping of debris along the four waterfronts.”

The TMC will submit an affidavit in the court in the next three weeks on the project.

Joshi said, “The corporation started work on the waterfronts a few months ago, after which huge amount of debris were dumped along the creek. This will fill the wetlands, leveling it with the road leading to massive flooding in the city. Ghodbunder Road was flooded for over four hours during the recent heavy rains blocking traffic. This happened because of the reclamation work at Gaimukh.”

The destruction of mangroves will also destroy the marine life and other plants in the area.

“The project is destroying all mangroves along the creek. This will lead to a disaster in future, when the city will face flooding owing to the development of wetlands,” he said.

Joshi claimed that the waterfront project under Smart City Project might have approval from the central government, but it does not have permission from the Maritime Board or the local tehsildar.

“Moreover, there are many locals whose livelihood depends on the wetlands. Most people residing in these areas, who will be displaced in the project,” he added.

Around 310 houses are displaced from Retibunder, three houses from Kopri and 179 houses from Nagla bunder for the development of these waterfronts.

The gaonthans and koliwadas have opposed the waterfront development project. “We are ready to support and assist the government to conserve creeks and mangroves. We will give in writing that not a single inch of land here will be encroached. However, we do not want such projects to come up along the creek, as it will lead to flooding in koliwadas and gaonthans,” said Girish Salgaonkar, president of Thane Gaonthan Koliwada Conservation Committee.

Maritime Board said taking their permission for the project is mandatory.

Sandeep Thakur, assistant port inspector of Maritime Board, said, “It is true that the corporation has not taken permission from us for the waterfront development project on creeks in the city. They have only taken permission from the central government.”

The TMC said they have not yet received the copy of the court order and cannot comment on the issue.

An official requesting anonymity said, “We have not yet received the order copy and do not know about the stay. However, we have written letters to Maritime Board and sought permission for development in the CRZ zone. The approvals are in process. The Ministry of Environment and Forests has given us a go-ahead. Moreover, we have said that we would replant more mangroves than what we will cut for the project.”

He added that the creek fronts are encroached and reclaimed by land sharks. “The TMC will save the green zone through the project and the concern of flooding is baseless,” he added.

BEAUTIFYING WORK GONE WRONG

The Thane Municipal Corporation proposed the waterfront development project in 2010, which finally took shape in 2017. A waterfront of 10.58km and an area of 7,22,000sqm will be developed under the project. Parsik-Retibunder, Gaimukh, Kolshet, Kavesar-Waghbil, Kalwa-Sashtrinagar, Saket-Balkum, Nagla bunder and Kopri waterfronts will be beautified under the project. Seven waterfronts will be developed through Smart City Limited while Gaimukh will be executed by the Maharashtra Maritime Board but funded by the corporation. The budget for the entire waterfront project is ₹260.3 crore.

First Published: Jul 28, 2018 00:52 IST