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[Mumbai Coastal Road Project] 'Don't Reclaim Stretch Of Sea Not Required For Reclamation Work': SC Seeks Map Earmarking Development Works

Sanya Talwar
17 Aug 2020 2:02 PM GMT
[Mumbai Coastal Road Project] Dont Reclaim Stretch Of Sea Not Required For Reclamation Work: SC Seeks Map Earmarking Development Works
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The Supreme Court on Monday told the the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) not to encroach upon more land than is required on its ongoing reclamation  coastal road project work between Worli sea face & the Worli end of the sea-link.

In this backdrop, the a bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubraminiun asked the BMC to submit a map along with an affidavit earmarking the area they were going to use within two weeks.

CJI: "We want to see a map to which the officers make an oath, on which they say that this is the area we are going to touch and the area which we are not going to touch and you are not going to go beyond this"

The bench also asked the BMC as to who had relieved it of Environmental clearances in this regard. 

CJI: "Whoever relieved you of statutory provisions? Environmental clearance should be based on an EIA. This map along with an affidavit within two weeks.

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan appeared for Applicant(s) Conservation Action Trust (CAT) and Shweta Wagh, founder of Collective for Spatial Alternatives in the plea seeking a stay on the ongoing reclamation work of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) coastal road project.

Stating that the Petitioner(s) had still not completed service upon Respondents', Divan submitted that parties were deliberately dragging the petition.

Divan: If they cant complete service for so many months and it can't be that the petition keeps getting dragged on.

The bench, taking note of the same, posted the matter for September 4 & directed Petitioners to initiate service upon unserved Respondents in the mean time.

On February 25, the CJI led bench had refused to stay the reclamation work on submissions by  Divan wherein he had asserted that the ongoing reclamation work being done by the authorities surpassed the earlier order of the Supreme Court in order dated 17th December 2019 which had, in effect insinuated a curb on carrying out any development work. The Court had instead sought response from the stakeholders on the plea.

Pointing to a Google map which earmarked the coastline surrounding the roadwork's area, Divan had then contended that the authorities had been frantically carrying out activities without paying much heed to the coastal ecology.

While claiming that extending the area required for carrying out works was in contravention of the Supreme Court's orders, Divan argued that rapid reclamation was causing irreversible damage to the environment.

At this juncture, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi & Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had interjected and stated that no such contravention of the orders of the Supreme Court 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 Applicant.

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 Bombay High Court Judgment on 17th December 2019 and allowed the Authorities to reclaim the land and build the road in the designated area.

While doing so, it had however disallowed carrying out any other development work until further orders and had listed the matter on 8th April 2020.

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