The Bombay High Court Thursday issued notices to the Maharashtra government, the Centre and the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority relating to a petition challenging the construction of the proposed Shivaji memorial statue off the Arabian Sea.
A bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice P N Deshmukh directed the authorities to file an affidavit clarifying whether due process was followed and a public hearing was held before granting environmental clearances for the project. The affidavit is supposed to be filed within a month. The court was hearing two petitions, one filed by an NGO and another by city residents and representatives of various fishermen communities.
The petitions have opposed the construction of the statue, citing ecological damage, and have also alleged while it is mandatory for the state authorities to invite suggestions and objections from the public and to hold a public hearing, in the present case, no such hearing was conducted.
The court was informed that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest had granted environmental and Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) clearance for the statue in January 2015, despite the fact that Maharashtra government had not conducted mandatory public hearing as required by the MoEF’s and CRZ Authority’s own rules. The government said according to an amendment in February 2015 to the state CRZ notifications, it was exempt from conducting public hearings. The petitioners challenged the amendment.