With Maharashtra awaiting the Centre’s nod for Mumbai’s Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP), the construction of the Dr BR Ambedkar memorial at Indu Mills in Dadar has also been slowed down. With almost half the Memorial planned in Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) area it still awaits clearance from the coastal management authority. “Around 50 per cent of the plot is in CRZ area and we need clearance from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) to work in it. However, since the Centre has not approved the CZMP yet, the CRZ limits have not been demarcated and the MCZMA cannot give us permission,” said a senior official from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).
The Rs 709 crore memorial, which will have a 350-feet statue of the leader apart from a stupa, museum, library, auditorium and open park, is set to be completed by 2020. Activists allege the CZMP, a regulatory policy for construction activity in coastal areas, has been delayed for five years. “The MCZMA had been approving multiple projects in CRZ area since early 2000s on the grounds that there are errors in the CZMP.
However, the MoEF put an end to it and asked them to submit a revised plan. When they did not do that we approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2013. The Tribunal directed it to stop giving environmental clearances for development activity, which falls within the regulated until they have a new plan in place. So, they cannot give clearances to projects unless the CZMP is approved,” explained Stalin D, Director, NGO Vanashakti.
While the NGT, in an order dated November 22, 2017, directed all the states to submit their plans to the MoEF by April 30, 2018, Maharashtra had not submitted the plans for Sindhudurg, Thane, Palghar and Mumbai City districts until the National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA) meeting on May 24.
“Chairman, MCZMA made a presentation on the draft CZMPs of the three coastal districts of Maharashtra viz., Greater Mumbai, Raigad and Ratnagiri, respectively. For the remaining districts viz. Sindhudurg, Thane, Palghar and Mumbai City the process is on and the task has been entrusted to NCESS, Kerala,” read the minutes of the meeting. In the same order, the NGT directed MoEF to approve CZMP for all states by July 31. “We submitted the CZMP long back but they wanted the hazardous line and the High Tide Line as well. So after all the additions we had a final hearing at the MoEF on July 18 and we are expecting the approval in the next fortnight,” said Anil Diggikar, Principal Secretary, state environment department.
MMRDA also hopes to get the clearance soon as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced on Friday in the state assembly that the Plan is likely to be approved by the Centre in 15 days. “The state has sent the CZMP maps to the Centre and the Chief Minister has already had meetings with officials from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in this regard. We should be able to get the clearance soon,” said another senior MMRDA official.
“There is no delay to the work as the construction has not stopped and we are continuing work in the remaining area. We are constructing the classroom, research centre and the library in the permitted area,” the official added. With work having begun in February the contractors are currently creating the shore piling for the Memorial.
“Once we complete shore piling we will begin excavation, which is done inside the piling. The excavation will create a level difference of at least eight metres. Shore piling is done to prevent the soil from the higher region from collapsing inside. It is needed in all buildings that have a basement,” the official said.
Earlier this month, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Tree Authority also gave them permission to cut trees on the 12-acre land in Dadar West. Of the 250 trees on the plot, 79 will be cut, while 37 trees will be transplanted.
“We are considering moving some of the trees to other parts of the plot where there will be no construction and the rest will be transplanted along the Eastern Express Highway,” he added.