The proposal to built a ₹3,600 crore Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial in the Arabian Sea is mired in controversy.
After a public interest litigation was filed at the Bombay High Court urging the project to be scrapped, a letter has been written to the Minister of Ministry of Environment, Forest (MoEF) and Climate Change (CC) pointing out that the project will affect the corals and marine biodiversity.
On May 16, a letter was written by environmentalist Debi Goenka, the Executive Trustee of Conservation Action Trust, says, “The entire procedure culminating in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and environmental clearance has been based on incorrect premise that the site for the said memorial is situated in CRZ IV.
“The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report prepared by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute and National Institute of Oceanography clearly states that there is an abundance of corals in the location proposed for the said memorial. Corals are categorised as CRZ-IA and are protected by the CRZ notification, 2011. The presence of corals was also confirmed by the site visit conducted by the officials of MoEF and CC and Public Waterworks Department.
“The material cannot be constructed at the proposed site as it will lead to irreparable damage to the corals as well as to the marine biodiversity of the area and will also be in violation of CRZ notification, 2011.”
The letter also points out, “The proposed project will have an adverse impact on the livelihood of the fisherfolk communities in Mumbai. Further, the construction activities in the shallow waters will severely impact the fish breeding grounds thereby impacting the productivity of the ecosystem, worsening the impact on the livelihood of the fisherfolks and the environment.”
‘Will accelerate mining’
It goes on to say, “The proposed project construction will accelerate sand mining, quarrying and laterite mining. The laterite stone are available only at Talmod, Chandrapur, Satara, Ratnagiri and Kolhapur.
“The mining for the laterite will involve the clearing of forests and felling of trees. The present situation is that the EIA has not taken cognisance of these requirements. The project proponents expect the contractor to obtain and transport these quantities of materials through his own ingenuity and enterprise. This mining of minerals will lead to impacts on the ecology of other areas. The increase in the height will further escalate the demand for the minerals.”
The letter says the proposed project should not be considered at all as it clearly violates the CRZ amendment notification dated February 17, 2015.