HC directs BMC to stop coastal road work, maintain status quo till June 3

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to stop the coastal road work and maintain status quo till June 3.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice N.M. Jamdar was hearing five petitions filed by Worli Koliwada Nakhwa, Vanashakti, Collective for Spatial Alternatives member Shweta Wagh, Conservation Action Trust, and Society for Improvement, Greenery and Nature. The petitions opposed the project on the ground that it posed a risk to the environment and the livelihood of fisherfolk.

A deputy director at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) filed an affidavit questioning the grant of coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance and if environment clearance is required under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA). The affidavit states, “The project does not fall in any of the categories of the projects or activities enlisted in the schedule of the EIA. The averment of the petitioners about non-obtaining of clearance under EIA notification, 2006, has no substance or merit.”

‘Need periodic studies’

The affidavit adds, “In acceptance of the recommendation of the expert appraisal committee, the MoEFCC had accorded the CRZ clearance on May 11, 2017 with adequate environmental safeguards to be implemented and compiled by the project proponent (BMC).” It also mentions that as per specific conditions of CRZ clearance, the BMC is required to periodically carry out specific studies through the National Institute of Oceanography during and after the construction of the coastal road to assess the actual impact.

Another affidavit filed by a scientist of MoEFCC stated, “The BMC had submitted that no rehabilitation and resentment is involved for the coastal road (South) Project of 9.9 km. After the Ministry was satisfied with the recommendations of the expert appraisal committee, CRZ clearance was granted.”

The Hindustan Construction Company and Larsen & Toubro filed intervention applications as they are facing losses worth crores of rupees because of the stay on the project. Senior counsel S.U. Kamdar, appearing for L&T, said, “The company is facing pecuniary loss and when the monsoon arrives, the environment will get affected because the sea will get rough to carry out work.”

Senior counsel Shreehari Aney, representing the BMC, sought the court’s permission to present his arguments, but the court suggested the civic body file an application to appoint a court commissioner to videograph the work to be carried out in the demarcated area. However, Mr. Aney said, “We will not be able to move the application.”

The BMC filed an affidavit in one of the matters, which created confusion about paperwork pertaining to the petitions. On the basis of this, the Bench directed the Registrar General (judiciary) to sort all the paperwork. The court said, “The RG should sort papers and affidavits into a file to identify the pleadings by counsel and also directed parties to file their rejoinders in three weeks.” The matter will be heard on June 3.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 8:58:18 AM |

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