Mumbai | The Bombay High Court on Thursday restrained the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) from carrying out further land reclamation for the Coastal Road Project in Mumbai till April 23.
A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice N M Jamdar also directed the BMC not to dump debris of the project in Worli sea-face area until further orders.
The judges accepted BMC counsel Anil Sakhre’s statement that it will not cut any trees in Tata Garden area for the project until further orders from the court.
The bench was hearing two petitions, one filed by NGO ‘Society for Improvement of Greenery and Nature’ and another by a group of residents.
The NGO has challenged the BMC’s proposal to cut over 200 trees in Tata Garden area for the project. The civic body said it was necessary to make way for an interchange at Breach Candy for the coastal road.
Ankit Kulkarni, lawyer of the NGO which is run by Breach Candy residents, argued that an open plot next to the park, known as Scandal Point, can be used for the interchange and there will be no need to cut the trees. The court said the suggestion was logical. “This is a simple suggestion that will appeal to any logical mind. Why not consider this?” the bench said.
The court also lamented rapid destruction of greenery in most cities to make way for “insatiable desire” for development. “Our future generations might not see any sparrows or butterflies….We keep taking agricultural land and turn it into sterile buildings,” the court said.
The other petition, filed by a group of residents led by Shweta Wagh, has challenged the ongoing reclamation around Worli area for the project. There was no adequate environmental impact assessment for the project, it said.
The project will irreversibly damage the coastal ecosystem and deprive the local fishing community of livelihood, it said.
Advocates Kranti L and Gayatri Singh, the petitioners’ lawyers, claimed that the BMC had not obtained the necessary environmental clearances from the Union government.
Advocate Sakhre of the BMC denied these claims. The apprehensions about reclamation work were unfounded as reclamation is not always destructive, and 70 per cent of Mumbai stands on land reclaimed from the sea, he said.
The court, however, directed the BMC to maintain a status quo until the next hearing on April 23. “Whatever damage has been done to the coast is done. But don’t venture ahead into the area of the coast that you (BMC) haven’t touched till now,” the court said.
The 29-km Coastal Road will connect Marine Lines in south Mumbai with Kandivali in north Mumbai.
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