The state-run Mangrove Foundation has written to the environment department to ensure that BMC, which is executing the coastal road project in Mumbai, complies with conditions pertaining to the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) clearance it had received before its proposals for additional reclamation is cleared.
According to the conditions of the CRZ clearance, BMC had to pay 2 per cent (Rs 254 crore) of the total cost of the project (Rs 12,721 crore) to the Mangrove Foundation on or before the commencement of work in December 2018. However, the civic body has only paid the foundation Rs 25 crore till date.
In a letter to Principal Secretary (Environment) Manisha Mhaiskar, dated October 29, the foundation has highlighted the non-compliance by BMC.
“It is brought to your kind consideration that the project proponent [BMC] is yet to deposit Rs 227.42 crore to the Mangrove Foundation, which is a breach of the specific condition 12 of the clearance given to the project. Moreover, BMC has already approached the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA under the environment department) for the clearance of additional reclamation works to be carried out for the coastal road the project,” stated the letter by Virendra Tiwari, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Mangrove Cell).
It added: “I request you to kindly ensure that the compliance of the specific condition given in reference no. 1 (payment of Rs 227.42 crore) shall be ensured before considering the new amendment to the project.”
The move comes after BMC and Mangrove Foundation officials got into a verbal spat over the non-payment in a meeting held in the last week of October. Those present in the meeting said that BMC at one point also inquired about how the Rs 25 crore it had paid to the foundation is being utilised.
“…Rs 25 crore has been added to the Mangrove Foundation’s corpus and kept in fixed deposits as per the foundation’s mandate. The interest earned thereon is utilised for improving coastal and marine biodiversity of Mumbai and Thane region and to build awareness among citizens…,” the letter said.
An official said, “There is no mention of payment to be made in installments in the CRZ clearance. BMC was supposed to deposit the money on or before the commencement of the project.”
In a meeting with MCZMA officials, the BMC had said that the length of the coastal road is set to increase from 9.98 km to 10.58 km and the change is due to consideration of curvatures and minor differences in ramp positions. It had added that the total area of the road falling under the CRZ will also increase from 117.05 hectare to 134.42 hectare.
While the total reclamation required for the project as per the BMC has gone up from 90 hectare to 111 hectare, till date, the civic body has reclaimed around 65 hectare for the road. The coastal road is being constructed from Princess Street Flyover at Marine Drive to Worli or south end of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link.
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