Do Not Reclaim Stretch Of Sea Not Needed For Mumbai Link Road, SC Tells BMC

The observation from the SC came while hearing a plea seeking a stay on the ongoing reclamation work by the BMC for the coastal road project
Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde
Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde

New Delhi, Aug 17 : The Supreme Court on Monday told the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation not to reclaim any more of the stretch of sea than what is required for the construction of the coastal road project to connect Marine Drive area in south to suburban Borivali in north.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde noted that the BMC must not overreach the apex court order. The bench emphasised that there shouldn’t be more reclamation of the sea than which is needed for the coastal road project.

The Chief Justice said the court is inclined to see the map where the officers would point out the areas they are going to touch and those which they are not going to. “And you are not going to go beyond this”, the bench told the BMC. The top court asked the BMC to file an affidavit detailing the land it is acquiring, land required only for road along with a map of the area in two weeks.

Environmentalists have opposed the project saying no EIA was taken. The observation from the top court came while hearing a plea seeking a stay on the ongoing reclamation work by the BMC for the coastal road project.

In February, the Conservation Action Trust (CAT) and Shweta Wagh, founder of Collective for Spatial Alternatives, had urged the Supreme Court to stay the ongoing reclamation work of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) coastal road project to connect the Marine Drive area in the south to suburban Borivali in the north.

The applicants contended before a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant that the BMC was violating the top court order by reclaiming more land than required for the Rs 14,000 crore coastal road project. On December 17, the top court had stayed the Bombay High Court decision to quash the coastal road zone (CRZ) clearances granted to this project.

The counsel, representing the petitioners opposing the project, contended instead of 22 hectares of coastal land, 75 hectares have been reclaimed so far. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Maharashtra government and its authorities, had vehemently opposed this contention by citing minimum requisite land for the project was being reclaimed. “Can I stand in the sea and build a road,” Rohatgi had contended. He told the top court that minimum facilities were required for construction of the coastal road.

The court asked the parties to bring on record through an affidavit whether 95 hectare land was required for reclamation for construction of the coastal road project. The court will hear the matter after two weeks. The court also asked the concerned authorities to examine the loss of livelihood of the local fishermen due to construction activities.

The top court in its December order had restrained the BMC from carrying out any other development work, instead of the coastal road project, until further orders.

The Bombay High Court in July last year had quashed the CRZ clearances granted to the coastal road project, saying that there was “serious lacuna” in the decision-making process and lack of proper scientific study.

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Comment: Unchanging nature of our problems

According to American news media, even in these adverse times, Modi has been able to maintain his popularity way better in comparison. How has this been possible? Is this because of lack of options for people? Whatever be the reason, the question remains why even after 73 years of our independence, our problems remain unchanged?