Corporators in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have accused the administration of starting work on the ambitious coastal road project without securing necessary clearances, conducting proper studies on risks to biodiversity of the western coast and taking into account the impact on the livelihoods of fisherfolk due to which the Bombay High Court has restrained the civic body from furthering the work from Marine Drive to the Worli end of the Sea Link.
Corporators have alleged that the administration made changes to the original plans of the project. On Monday, Congress corporator Asif Zakaria raised the issue during the Standing Committee meeting pointing out the stay granted by the High Court and demanded an explanation on the progress of the project after the Lok Sabha elections were over.
“It seems that the civic body has started the work in a hurried manner without getting all permissions for the project. Last year, the civic body showed us a presentation on the project. During the presentation, I had pointed out that most of the NOCs (No Objection Certificate) granted by various authorities were subject to certain conditions; this means that the BMC is supposed to comply with them. If not, then the authorities can decide to revoke them,” said Zakaria.
The corporator added, “But at that time, the administration had assured us that there will be no problems. Now, there is a stay on the project, which clearly shows that the BMC failed to comply with conditions and get all clearances. Even the fisheries department, in its report, had warned that the livelihood of the fisherfolk will be destroyed and the civic body should take along all stakeholders.”
Corporators were also miffed that the BMC changed plans for the project as the administration had promised that no trees will be felled.
Samajwadi Party corporator Rais Shaikh said, “Earlier, the BMC had promised to create a massive open space on reclaimed land. But now it has been revealed that part of that open space will be used for creating parking spaces and other amenities and utilities. This is a change in the original plan. Also, since there is a stay on the project, who will be responsible for the loss of public money?”
However, Shiv Sena corporators asked the administration to hire prominent lawyers to argue the BMC’s case and get the stay vacated as soon as possible.
Sena corporator Vishakha Raut said the project was party chief Uddhav Thackeray’s dream project and the stay should be vacated soon.
Activists and residents from South Mumbai organised a specially curated photo exhibition to celebrate the human, marine and wild life of the Mumbai coast. The exhibition was spearheaded by Save Our Coast Bombay, a group formed by residents protesting the coastal road project.