The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) on Monday approved the removal of mangroves in the State to make way for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.
A Division Bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and D.S. Naidu was hearing a petition filed by the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRC). The petition challenged the decision of MCZMA on December 20, 2018, to defer the proposal for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Railway Project.
The plea mentions that the total land requirement for the project in Maharashtra is 438.5360 hectares. The area falling under forests stands at 131.3016 hectares, out of which the area for mangrove forests is 32.4302 hectares. The plea said the actual land under mangroves to be affected owing to the project will be 13.3668 hectares.
The bullet train project will have an alignment of 508.17 km, out of which 155.642 km will be in Maharashtra and 21.913 km falls within the State’s Coastal Regulation Zone.
The MCZMA was objecting to the project on the basis of a HC order that reads, “The State is duty bound to protect and preserve mangroves. The mangroves cannot be permitted to be destroyed by the State for private, commercial or any other use unless the Court finds it necessary for public good or public interest.”
Clause carved out
In the last hearing, a Division Bench headed by Justice Gavai said, “The High Court order has carved out a clause wherein permission can be granted if it is necessary for the public good or public interest.” The Bench also said, “In such matters, permission has been granted only after expert bodies like the Ministry for Environment and Forests [MoEF], the Union and the State governments have granted permissions.” The court then directed the MCZMA to take a decision on the proposal.
The counsel representing the MCZMA told High Court on Monday that it has approved the proposal and sent it to the MoEF. Advocate Pralhad Paranjape, appearing for the NHSRC, said he will amend the petition and add the approval. The matter has been adjourned for three weeks.