Mumbai: After SC relief, BMC rushes to resume work on coastal road

Updated: Dec 18, 2019, 07:33 IST | Prajakta Kasale | Mumbai

While BMC seeks to waste no more time, activists slam SC directive, say it will cause loss of biodiversity

The BMC has completed 6.25 per cent of work on the coastal road. Pic/ Bipin Kokate
The BMC has completed 6.25 per cent of work on the coastal road. Pic/ Bipin Kokate

After the Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed a Bombay High Court order directing the civic body to stop work on the coastal road project, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is all set to resume construction on Wednesday.

Official intimation has been sent to both contractors. The civic body intends to complete as much work as possible before April, the next date of the Supreme Court (SC) hearing. Only 6.25 per cent work has been done on the project so far.

"Our priority is to start work immediately as there have already been a lot of delays. We have spoken to the contractors. They will resume the work on Wednesday," said Additional Commissioner Vijay Singhal.

Another officer associated with the project told mid-day that the reclamation work done so far remains intact. "The Supreme Court has okayed reclamation work but not any development work, such as building any structures," the officer said. He claimed that the delay is causing a loss of R4 to Rs 5 crore per day.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant said, "We are of the considered opinion that the order of the Bombay High Court dated July 16 should be stayed till further orders".

The Bombay High Court (HC) had stayed work on the coastal road on April 16 this year. The BMC appealed in the apex court, which allowed work on the already reclaimed portion at the contractor's own risk and without any new reclamation. On July 16, the HC again stopped the work, stating that the project cannot be executed without environment clearances under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. SC's latest order has given BMC officers a sigh of relief.

Activists, however, are not happy with the order. D Stalin, director of the NGO Vanashakti and one of the HC petitioners, said, "Mumbai will pay a heavy price for these reckless actions. It is most unfortunate and unfair that an order has been passed without hearing the complete matter. To add insult to injury, the matter has been kept for hearing in April. What is the point? After the coastline is destroyed, what good will the hearing do? It is a gross miscarriage of justice."

Architect Shweta Wagh, another petitioner, said that SC's order was unexpected. "The HC's order made BMC conduct studies on the impact on fisheries and marine biodiversity. It has not yet been completed and still the SC gave BMC a go-ahead. The impact the construction will have on marine biodiversity will be irreversible," she said. The BMC had approved and started work on a 10-km part of the coastal road, that will connect Marine Drive and Borivli, on December 16, 2018. The section cost the civic body Rs 12,000-crore. The project has a four-year timeline but work was stalled after various fishermen's associations and NGOs appealed in HC. The BMC spent Rs 594 crore on the project till August this year.

8
Months work was stalled for

With inputs from Agencies

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