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Versova-Bandra sea link: Juhu fisherfolk to pursue case against MSRDC

Group alleges MSRDC’s actions in contempt of HC order

mumbai Updated: Apr 30, 2019 01:30 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Juhu,Bandra
Juhu-Koliwada mangroves are at risk from VBSL project(HT Photo)

Members of the Juhu Morgaon Macchimar Vividh Karyakari Sahakari Sanstha (JMMVKSS), a group of local fishermen, have said they will pursue a contempt petition against Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC).

According to the JMMVKSS, the MSRDC has destroyed mangroves by constructing a casting yard within 50 metres of mangroves on Juhu beach. The Bombay high court (HC) will hear the matter on June 12.

On April 26, the JMMVKSS’s contempt plea was tagged with a petition filed by activist Zoru Bhathena, and the HC revoked the permission given to MSRDC by Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), to build the yard in Juhu for the Versova-Bandra sea link (VBSL). The court cited a violation of coastal regulation zone norms to revoke the clearance.

“On Friday, the division bench of chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Nitin Jamdar asked the petitioners if they wanted to withdraw the contempt plea. But we said the matter needs a logical conclusion because environment destruction took place,” said a JMMVKSS member.

JMMVKSS will continue to pursue the contempt petition, alleging that the MSRDC violated an HC order from 2018, which imposes a blanket ban on mangrove destruction in Maharashtra.

Dinesh Mangela, JMVKSS secretary and the petitioner, said they have proof of MSRDC building the yard on a 7.8-hectare plot near the Juhu mangroves. “Tidal water to the mangroves was cut off through debris dumping to dry out the area,” Mangela said.

RL Mopalwar, the vice-chairperson and managing director, MSRDC, refused to comment on the contempt plea saying it matter is sub judice. “We will file a special leave petition in the SC this week to challenge the HC order,” Mopalwar said.

Another MSRDC official said the mangrove cell had clarified in January that mangroves were located 150m away from the casting yard site and there was no obstruction to tidal water.

While the mangrove cell did not comment on the matter, a copy of its report (accessed by HT) reads: “A few bushes of clerodendroninerme [classified as mangrove associate] were seen dried up, but this can by no means be interpreted as mangrove destruction.”

First Published: Apr 30, 2019 01:30 IST