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Flak for coastal freeway project

MSRDC chief says social and environmental issues need to be addressed before arriving at a decision about the Rs 10,000 crore project.

mumbai Updated: Jan 19, 2012 01:17 IST
Zeeshan Shaikh
Zeeshan Shaikh
Hindustan Times

Barely a day after it was proposed, the coastal freeway between Nariman Point and Kandivli has already attracted its share of critics. Some members of the joint technical committee (JTC) which had recommended the freeway in its final report submitted to the government on Tuesday, have also raised concerns.

MSRDC vice chairman and managing director Bipin Shrimali, a member, wrote to the committee: “The proposed alignment of the coastal road will be of major concern to many social groups and stake holders. A number of people may have a difference of opinion, and unless we hear them it will be difficult to conclude anything in this regard.” He also asked the commission to ensure that all sides of the project were presented to the government. “The government should come to know not only the positive sides of the scheme but also any concerns,” Shrimali said.

Another member of the committee, Nalini Bhat, who is an advisor to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), wrote a letter to the committee claiming that she was involved in the panel in her personal capacity, and that the recommendations should not be seen as approval of the MoEF.

The recommendations of the committee that CRZ rules be amended have not gone down well with officials. The present CRZ rules of 2011 do not allow reclamation of the sea. The JTC has, however, recommended reclamation at three places for the coastal road project.

Environmentalists have opposed the moves to reclaim land from the sea, saying it will severely affect the coastal ecology. Rishi Agarwal, an environmentalist, said: “The coastal ecology is priceless. The coastal road project will affect it. We are planning to send a very strong letter to the environment minister against the proposal.”

Many state government officials have also pointed out that many other infrastructure projects, including the Worli-Haji Ali Sea Link, would now be stuck.

“No one knows when the amendment will happen and when work will start on the project. In the meantime the Worli-Haji Ali sea link is stuck in a limbo with the government not specifying whether it wants to build it or scrap it,” a senior state government official said.

First Published: Jan 19, 2012 01:15 IST