Bombay HC quashes CRZ clearance for coastal road project

Bombay HC has asked BMC to apply afresh for clearance of environmental impact assessment.   | Photo Credit: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday set aside the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearances granted to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the ambitious ₹14,000-crore coastal road project, saying there was “serious lacuna” in the decision-making process. Pointing out that there was lack of proper scientific study, the court said environmental impact assessment (EIA) is required.

A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice N.M. Jamdar restrained the BMC from proceeding with work on the ambitious project, proposed to connect Marine Drive area in south Mumbai to suburban Borivali in north Mumbai.

The court “upheld the notification dated December 30, 2015 amending the CRZ 2011 but holding that the clearance granted under CRZ-2011 by Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), expert appraisal committee (EAC) and Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) are illegal.”

The court said, “we quash the approval granted by MCZMA on January, 4, 2017, the approval granted by EAC on March 17, 2017 and the final approval granted by MoEF on May, 11, 2017.”

The Bench added, “we declare that BMC cannot proceed with the works without obtaining an environmental clearance under environmental impact assessment (EIA) notification.”

In its 219-page judgement, the court held, “without an environmental clearance under EIA Notification the project could not commence and BMC would therefore be required to apply for clearance under EIA Notification, which would require public consultant as per EIA Notification and at that stage the fishermen community would get an opportunity to present their case.”

The judgment also reads, “The State Government or the Central Government and therefore, BMC cannot after reclaiming the seashore construct a road thereon. The area is ecologically sensitive having geo-morphological features which play a role in maintaining integrity of the species and thus, we hold that MCGM could not have commenced the works in question without obtaining permission under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.”

Senior counsel Darius Khambata appearing for BMC had urged the court to stay the judgment but the court to refused it. However, senior counsel Anil Sakhare, also a BMC counsel told with The Hindu,“we have already started working on our appeal and it will be filed on Thursday before the Supreme Court.”

The construction work commenced on Marine Drive near Princes Street Flyover and Worli around October 2018. The total length of Part A – South side from Jagannath Bhosale Road Nariman Point to Worli end of Sea Link is 9.98 kms. After hearing all the arguments, the had court reserved the judgment on July 1, 2019.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Worli Koliwada Nakhava Matsya Vyavasay Sahakari Society Limited and Worli Machimmar Sarvodaya Sahakari Society. They stated the project will lead to the loss of direct access to the sea and coastal commons due to reclamation and loss of coastal resource, habitats and fish-breeding areas.

A public interest litigations (PIL) filed by NGO Vanashakti Shweta Wagh, a member of the Collective for Spatial Alternatives the Conservation Action Trust and the Society for Improvement, Greenery and Nature and a petitioner-in-person Prakash Chanderkar. They point out that the project was started without the requisite environmental clearances and that it will affect the marine biodiversity.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 12:14:44 AM |

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