MUMBAI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday clarified that no reclamation and development work can be carried out in any area beyond 90 hectares, at present in connection with the Mumbai coastal road project.
“We have no doubt that the CRZ clearance and the dispute before the HC is in respect of 90 hectares of land. It is therefore very clear that no reclamation and development can be carried out in respect of any area beyond 90 hectares,’’ the SC bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said.
The SC also said, “We make it clear that any activity undertaken by the BMC and the concerned contractors shall be at their own risk and shall be subject to the final outcome of present proceedings.’’
The SC also said that “a representative of original petitioners before the Bombay high court’’ which include NGOs Conservation Action Trust (CAT) and Worli Koliwada fishermen’s society—shall be permitted to be present and be beard by
Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority
(MCZMA) before taking a decision. The MCZMA is in the process of fixing a date to hear an application made by the BMC for approval to its revised plans for additional reclamation of 21 hectares—greater than two Oval Maidans.
“Till such clearance is obtained, no activity whether by reclamation or development will be carried out’’ in the additional proposed area.
The figure for proposed reclamation had gone from 90 to 111 hectares with a qualitative change said CAT counsel Shyam Divan in court. Of the 90, 70 hectares was meant for parks, cycle tracks, promenade, butterfly park, bus depot among other facilities.
The BMC had challenged the HC judgment passed last year which said the project needs a comprehensive environmental clearance and had halted work. Last year on December 17, the SC in an interim order stayed the HC order, allowed BMC to “reclaim land, build the road and secure the road’’ but not carryout other developmental work.
The SC declined to consider pleas by activists for orders to stop reclamation of land for any area other than for a road and to carry on reclamation is a manner that would not cause permanent damage to
meant “land over which the coastal road project is to be executed and that is 90 hectares.’’
The SC said the plea was “an attempt of the applicants to have a review of the earlier direction permitting reclamation. No case for review has been made out. Therefore, we are not inclined to consider the prayer for stopping reclamation’’ Mumbai’s coastline.
The SC said its order of December 2019 “clearly permits BMC to reclaim the land.’’ The SC clarified that the ‘land’. Nor did the SC see “any ambiguity’’ which warrants modification of its December 17 order, as was sought.
For BMC, Solicitor general Tushar Mehta and senior counsel Darius Khambata said an application has been made for obtaining clearance under CRZ for the excess land. The plea likely to be processed by the end October and an early decision is likely from MCZMA.
The BMC said the CRZ clearance it has got was “after a more intensive scrutiny than it is under Environment Protection Act.’’ The activists contended that an
under EPA is a must. The SC said, “We are not going to into the said question(s) at this stage.”
Mukesh Verma, counsel for MCZMA informed the SC that the question of granting a clearance to permit reclamation and development of land in excess of 90 hectares is going to be taken up at the end of this month.