Mumbai: 'How can road be laid on beach for sea link?' asks green activist
In letter to authorities, green activist Zoru Bhathena alleges despite clear directions from MoEF, a permanent road is being constructed across Juhu Koliwada beach
Construction work related to the Versova Bandra Sea Link (VBSL) has once again led to a controversy with city-based green activist Zoru Bhathena alleging that despite very clear directions from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF), the authorities concerned were constructing a permanent access road across Juhu Koliwada beach.
On November 16, Bhathena had written to the principal secretary of Environment Department, Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority, Collector, Mumbai suburban district office and officer of K West ward alleging that illegal and permanent construction was being carried out on the beach. The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation is constructing the VBSL through a contractor.
According to Bhathena, MSRDC had obtained necessary permissions to construct a sea link and some temporary structures. The CRZ clearance dated January 9, 2013, issued by MoEF, states that "there shall be no dredging and reclamation for the project".
Bhathena told mid-day, "This road is being constructed so that they have access to the pier/pillar sites, which are located within the inter-tidal areas. However, this road is being built across the beach and also through the inter-tidal zone [area between high tide and low tide]. It is also being constructed by digging sand and filling it with stones. Though the road may be required for temporary use by VBSL authorities, i.e. till the time the piers/pillars are constructed, the very nature of the road shows that it is a permanent construction."
He further said that constructing a permanent road by digging sand and reclaiming the beach and inter-tidal areas was a prohibited activity. "Such permanent construction in CRZ-I areas is prohibited under the said regulations. Even the MoEF had prohibited it while granting clearances for the project," Bhathena said in his letter.
The activist also attached photos of the road being constructed with the letter. He even shared photos of how temporary ramps were usually constructed for such projects.
The letter further states, "You all are directly responsible for protecting the natural environment. It is your direct responsibility to ensure that illegal work is not carried out on beaches and in inter-tidal areas. You all are requested to take immediate action to stop this illegal permanent construction on Juhu Koliwada beach, failing which I shall have no option but to move court."
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