Centre gives fresh green nod to Mumbai Trans Harbour Link project

New Delhi: The Centre today issued a fresh coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance to the ambitious 22-km Mumbai Trans Harbour Link project worth Rs 11,370 crore.

The decision follows a National Green Tribunal (NGT)'s October order that had set aside the Environment Ministry's prior coastal clearance of 2013 to the project and asked it look into the proposal afresh.

The proposed Mumbai Trans Harbour Link project, to be implemented by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), envisages construction of six lanes road bridge to ease congestion and reduce pollution in Mumbai. The Maharashtra government plans to issue a tender in March and complete the crucial link by 2019.

"In compliance of the directions of NGT, the proposal 'Mumbai Trans Harbour Link' by MMRDA was considered by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) in the ministry. Based on the recommendations of EAC, the Environment Ministry hereby accords CRZ clearance to the project," the ministry said in a letter written to MMRDA.

The green nod to the project, estimated to cost Rs 11,370 crore, has been given subject to the compliance of specific and general conditions, it said.

Among specific conditions, the ministry has asked MMRDA to obtain requisite forest clearance (FC) for diversion of 47.41 hectare forest land.

"The project may be executed in the entire stretch in non-forest land, and while making application to get for the forest clearance, the execution of work on non-forest land shall not be cited as a reason for grant of FC and in case FC is declined, the forest land shall be maintained at its existing conditions," the ministry said and asked MMRDA to submit an undertaking to this effect at the earliest.

The MMRDA has also been asked to strictly comply with all terms and conditions stipulated by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority and implement the Environment Management Plan in consultation with all stakeholders. It has been asked to implement the project with the provisions of the CRZ Notification 2011 and not affect the coastal ecology of the area. It has also been asked obtain all permissions from concerned authorities prior to commencement of the project.

The ministry also said the current CRZ clearance to the project is subject to final order of the Supreme Court in the matter of Goa Foundation Vs Union of India in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 460 of 2004 as may be applicable to this project.

Although the project had first got the environment clearance (EC) way back in 2005, it could not take off within the validity period of five years of the EC due to irrational offers received from bidders.

Subsequently, the CRZ clearance was given in 2013 after taking into consideration the submissions of MMRDA that the proposal is to construct sea link and it does not attract the provisions of EIA Notification, 2006. However, Pune-based NGT kept the 2013 CRZ clearance in abeyance for six months.

As per the MMRDA proposal, the Mumbai Trans Harbour Sea Link project involves construction of a bridge across the Mumbai harbour between Sewri on the island city side (in the Mumbai Port Trust area) and Chirle on the Navi Mumbai side.

The link is about 22 km long with a 16.5 km bridge across the sea and a 5.5 km long viaduct on the land.

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