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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Mumbai: Work on coastal road set to resume today

Work on the project had started in December 2018, following which, it ran into legal troubles.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
Updated: December 18, 2019 5:16:26 am
Coastal road work site in Worli. Nirmal Harindran

WORK ON the southern part of the Rs 12,000-crore coastal road project, which came to a halt in July, is set to resume from Wednesday, with the Supreme Court on Tuesday staying the Bombay High Court order that had quashed the environmental clearances granted to the ambitious project.

Work on the project had started in December 2018, following which, it ran into legal troubles. The BMC had begun reclamation work at several locations on the western coast of the city — between Princess Street in Marine Drive to the Worli end of Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Following the HC order, it had stopped all activities and moved the SC. Till July, BMC had spent Rs 500 crore on the project. Of it, most was spent on reclamation.

“We are yet to receive the copy of the SC order. However, going by the instructions we have received, we can begin reclamation work at all spots immediately. In all likelihood, the work will resume from Wednesday morning. No caveat has been issued by the SC on the amount or kind of work that we cannot take up,” a BMC official said. BMC had earlier said that the work being put on hold had led to losses of about Rs 10 crore per day.

The reclamation work will resume at Priyadarshani Park, Amarsons Garden, Haji Ali and Worli Seaface, the official added. The next hearing in SC is scheduled in April.

Environmentalist and activists, however, expressed disappointed with the SC decision. Having exhausted their legal remedies, the petitioners said they would work with the government and authorities, and try to ensure that the livelihood of fishermen is not impacted.

City-based architect and a petitioner in the case, Shweta Wagh, said: “I am shocked by the SC’s decision. This will destroy coastal ecology and the damage done by the time we get the next hearing will be irreversible. The Central Marine Fisheries Institute is carrying out an ecological impact survey. How can they allow the work to resume without the survey results? The SC order allows BMC to resume reclamation at the spot they started and also begin new work.”

Debi Goenka of Bombay Conservation Trust, said: “Our lawyers in court repeatedly requested an early hearing in the matter. However, we didn’t get it. The legal course available with us is to put forth an application for an early hearing in January.”

The BMC is constructing 9.96-km of the coastal road from Princess Street to Worli end of the Sea Link. The road will be partly made on reclaimed land, and would be underground. Activists had opposed the move, alleging it could prove disastrous, as it will cause irreversible damage to the western coast and marine biodiversity. Fishermen had also expressed concern that reclamation will deprive them of their livelihood, as it would destroy the fishing areas and increase water turbidity among others.

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