Apr 12, 2019 | The Asian Age
The NGO had challenged the BMC’s proposal to cut over 200 trees in Tata Garden area for the project.
Mumbai: The Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday restrained the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) from carrying out further land reclamation for the Coastal Road Project in Mumbai till April 23.
HC directed the BMC to refrain from dumping debris of the project in the Worli seaface area until further orders. A bench of chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice N.M. Jamdar was hearing two petitions, one filed by an NGO ‘Society for Improvement of Greenery and Nature’ and another by a group of residents. The NGO had challenged the BMC’s proposal to cut over 200 trees in Tata Garden area for the project. The civic body said it was necessary to make way for an interchange at Breach Candy for the Coastal Road.
Ankit Kulkarni, lawyer of the NGO which is run by Breach Candy residents, argued that an open plot next to the park, known as Scandal Point, can be used for the interchange and there will be no need to cut the trees.
The court said the suggestion was logical. “This is a simple suggestion that will appeal to any logical mind. Why not consider this?” the bench said.
The court also lamented rapid destruction of greenery in most cities to make way for “insatiable desire” for development. “Our future generations might not see any sparrows or butterflies. We keep taking agricultural land and turn it into sterile buildings,” said the court.
Another petition, filed by a group of residents led by Shweta Wagh, has challenged the ongoing reclamation around Worli area for the project. “There was no adequate environmental impact assessment for the project,” it said. “The project will irreversibly damage the coastal ecosystem and deprive the local fishing community of livelihood,” it said.
Advocate Sakhre of the BMC denied these claims. “The apprehensions about reclamation work were unfounded as reclamation was not always destructive, and 70 per cent of Mumbai stands on land reclaimed from the sea,” Mr Sakhre said.
The court, however, directed the BMC to maintain a status quo until the next hearing on April 23. “Whatever damage has been done to the coast is done. But don’t venture ahead into the area of the coast that has been untouched by you (BMC),” the court said.
CRZ panel told to summon its experts
The Bombay high court has directed the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) to summon its experts to explain how coastal regulation zone (CRZ) areas have been classified along the coast.
The court was hearing a petition filed against using the Juhu-Khar Danda coastal area as casting yard for the construction of the Bandra-Versova Sea Link.
A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice N.M. Jamdar was hearing the petition filed by activist Zoru Bathena alleging that Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation Limited (MSRDC) was violating environmental and CRZ laws while doing the work. He also brought to the notice of the court that due to leveling work, the Juhu beach mangroves were not getting seawater and would die in a few days.
The plea claimed that the MSRDC was constructing the casting yard on the Juhu-Koliwada beach, and in the process, illegally reclaiming a portion of the beach.
The petitioner told the court that the state-run corporation was carrying on construction without requisite permissions. A casting yard is a confined place where concrete structures like segments, parapets, girders, beams and boundary wall panels are manufactured.
On Thursday, MSRDC counsel told HC that the petitioner wanted to challenge the permission given by the MCZMA. He informed the court that construction of the casting yard was underway at the CRZ 1 and 2 areas.He further brought to the notice of the court that there were provisions under the central government notification to carry out construction, which was in the larger public interest.
Justice Nandrajog then said, they could understand if there were one or more pillars on the beach but an entire casting yard would affect environment during low and high tide.