BMC reclaims 15 hectares more in the sea for the Mumbai Coastal Project

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) told the Supreme Court (SC) that they need additional reclamation of six hectares for the Coastal Road project in Mumbai repeatedly and has now filed a fresh affidavit, to pursue 15 more hectares from the sea.

The BMC, on Monday, filed an enhancing affidavit to the Supreme Court and petitioners reclaiming its need of a total of 111 hectares instead of 96 hectares that was stated in the previous affidavit for the road coastal project.

On 28th August an additional affidavit was filed by the BMC informing the court and petitioners that the original reclamation for the project was estimated to be 90 hectares and it needs an additional of six-hectares. The latest submission of the BMC that came after the SC on 18th August and asked the civic body to file an affidavit characterising the land that it is acquiring.

The civic body in the past 10 days has filed two affidavits expanding the requirement of repossession from 90 to 111 hectares. This increase in the reclamation was due to the construction of the partially submerged sea wall which will protect the coastal road from high waves and erosion.

The latest testimony stated that this design for the partially submerged inclined sea wall, whose construction has already been started will lead to the repossession of the estimated 15 hectares in addition to the 96 hectares.

The 15 hectares foundation of the sea wall will mostly be submerged. The construction of the sea wall will be done using armour rocks that would help in the enhancement of the marine biodiversity and will be eco-friendly, the BMC added. The BMC also said that they have the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance for the reclamation of the 90 hectares and the repossession for the addition will be done only after receiving permission from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

However, the civic body has already reclaimed 52.35 hectares for the 9.98 km coastal road that begins from Princess Street Flyover till the Worli end of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link.

Many activists are objecting for this project stating that it will cause irreversible damage to the marine life near the fishing areas and on the western coast. They are saying that the civic body has violated the CRZ norms by doing an excess reclamation at Haji Ali and Worli. On the 4th of September, however, the BMC had filed an affidavit before the apex court who denied the claim.

Shweta Wagh, the urban conservationist and a petitioner against the coastal road said, “Why can’t the BMC decide how much area they are actually planning to reclaim? It seems the BMC is unable to calculate areas properly, or they are carrying out reclamation beyond what they have permission for. This is a very serious issue of transparency and accountability.”

She also said that when the BMC’s new maps were compared with their maps they found that the BMC carried out some reclamation without clearances at Haji Ali and Worli.

Initially, while endorsing this progressive coastal road project, the BMC had said that the reclamation in the sea will give the city an addition of 90 hectares of open spaces.

Nevertheless, according to the BMC’s documents of 2017, out of the 90 hectares, 20 hectares will be used for the road carriageway. It will include an avenue towards the sea and the rest 70 hectares has been shown as green spaces, out of which 56 hectares will be used for facilities like bus stops, police stations and substations. The rest 3.96 hectares of the area will be used as an area of the median.

However, the Deputy of the Municipal Commission, R S Kuknoor was not present to reflect on this. Hoping that this coastal project is actually beneficial to marine biodiversity and the people.

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