Friday, January 27, 2023

SC seeks response on plea to stop reclamation work at Mumbai Coastal Road Project

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought a response from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on a plea seeking a stay on the ongoing reclamation work at the Rs 14,000-crore coastal road project between Worli sea face and the Worli end of the sea-link.

A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde asked the respondent to file its reply to the petition, without passing any other direction.

The bench also comprising Justices BR Gavai and Justice Surya Kant posted the matter to March 5.

The petition was filed by the Conservation Action Trust (CAT) and Shweta Wagh, founder of Collective for Spatial Alternatives.

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, who appeared the petitioners, contended that the reclamation work underway at the site violated the apex court’s December 17, 2019 order, which had put restrection on  carrying out any development work.

Divan said the authorities had been frantically carrying out activities without paying much heed to the coastal ecology.

He argued that rapid reclamation was causing irreversible damage to the environment.

“The plan involves 95 hectares for a stretch of 9.98 km stretch where reclamation is taking place. Moreover, below the road is 22 hectares. The reclamation work is not in accordance with the directions of the court,” Divan submitted.

During the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta interjected and submitted that no such contravention of the Supreme Court’s order was taking place.

“Do they expect us to carry out development in the road works by standing at sea?” said Rohatgi, denying the claims of the petitioners.

Justice Bobde observed, “We had said that the development work will be done on the road only. We had passed an order that no development activities will take place.”

The CJI also noted, “Make sure the livelihoods of the fishermen are not effected.”

In July last year, the Bombay High Court had quashed the coastal regulation clearances granted to the coastal road project on account of numerous irregularities, which had been overlooked by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority.

Subsequently, admitting an appeal of the municipal corporation, the Supreme Court had stayed the high court verdict on December 17 last year and allowed the authorities to reclaim the land and build the road in the designated area.

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