The Maharashtra government’s dream to build a 30.07-km coastal road along the city’s western coastal stretch by 2019 seems a distant dream as the Central ministry is yet to give the mandatory Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) clearance for the project.
The Hindu had sought a reply to a query under the Right to Information Act regarding environmental clearance for the project. As per the documents made available, the application for the CRZ clearance for proposed Mumbai Coastal Road Project was sent to the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC) on March 10, 2016.
The civic body, which is the implementing agency of the project, is yet to receive clearance from the ministry.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena leadership has been claiming credit for clearing the project through the MoEFCC within a year for long time now. During the recently-held budget session of the state legislature, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had claimed that all mega projects in Mumbai – including the coastal road project – will be completed by 2019.
In June 2015 and later in December 2015, he Tweeted a thank you note addressing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union environment minister Prakash Jawdekar for issuing first a draft notification and then a final one to ensure construction of the coastal road.
One of the two paragraphs inserted as a part of notification said, “Construction of a road by way of reclamation in the CRZ area shall be only in exceptional cases, to be recommended by the concerned Coastal Zone Management Authority and approved by the MoEFCC…” The notification did not mean clearance to the project but it only opened the door to place coastal road project in front of the committee empowered to grant CRZ clearance. According to a senior official in the environment ministry, being a municipal road, the coastal road does not require environmental clearance from the MoEFCC. “However, as it deals with reclamation, a CRZ clearance will be required. We have not received it yet,” said the official.
In January 2016, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation presented the application for CRZ clearance to the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) with an estimated cost of Rs. 14,153 crore for an approximate length of 33.77 km. By the time MCZMA recommended the proposal, the total length was reduced to 30.07 km, with total area under reclamation amounting to 181 hectares.
In its recommendation to the MoEFCC, the MCZMA has put forward 28 specific conditions. It has specifically asked the BMC to take high court permission before clearing mangroves, if any.
It has also observed that the coastal road will have an impact on the nearby habitats of traditional coastal communities. It has asked the civic body to ensure navigational channels are not blocked at koliwada areas and fishing activity is not hampered.
The conditions also include an Environmental Cost Benefit analysis, a socio-economic study and a traffic analysis report from the BMC. Additional Municipal Commissioner (Projects) Dr Sanjay Mukherjee accepted that the civic body is still waiting for the CRZ clearance. “Once we get the clearance, work will begin immediately,” he said.
The BJP-Shiv Sena leadership has been claiming credit for clearing the project in a year for long time