Coastal road: Bombay High Court stops work; to pass its order on Thursday

The Bombay high court (HC) observed on Tuesday that there was no denying that reclamation for the coastal road would lead to irreversible ecological damage and directed the BMC to maintain status quo by pausing all work on the coastal road for two days.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) objected, saying stopping work would result in a loss of ₹10 crore per day, but the bench said it would pass a reasoned order on Thursday. The court will also hear all five petitions dealing with different aspects of the coastal road project together.

At the start of the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) pointing to the damage to Tata Garden Park in South Mumbai due to the coastal road project, the bench of chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice N M Jamdar decided that the five petitions dealing with different aspects of the project would be heard together. All the petitioners agreed with the suggestion and chief justice Nandrajog said the hearing would commence from April 23.

Following this, advocate Janak Dwarkadas, who was representing one of the petitioners, stated that the BMC had failed to get the environment clearance (EC) mandated by the National Green Tribunal and commenced work on the coastal road. He said the project would cause damage to Tata Garden Park and to the ecology of the area. He also pointed out that the BMC had got an EC for the Bandra-Versova portion of the 36km-long project, which showed that the civic body was aware of the requirement but had overlooked it for the 11km portion from Marine Lines to Worli.

Special counsel Shreehari Aney, representing the BMC, refuted the allegations and said the BMC had got the EC for the said portion as it came under the purview of the 2015 amendment to the CRZ rules. The rule says that in exceptional circumstances, authorities are exempted from getting the EC.

When asked by the bench to justify the exceptional circumstance , Aney said, “Mumbai has three roads from South to North. The first is the freeway, the second is the main road used by those wanting to travel from Fort to Dahisar, and third is the VIP road. In light of this, the only solution to Mumbai’s traffic problem is the coastal road and it is an exceptional circumstance.” He was supported in his arguments by senior counsel for BMC Anil Sakhare. Senior advocate Mihir Sathe appeared for the state.

The bench said, “The CRZ amendment does not define the term ‘exceptional circumstance’ and hence it is left to the authorities to interpret it … As there is no order in any of the petitions, we will give a reasoned order on Thursday.”

First Published:
Apr 17, 2019 08:11 IST

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