Mumbai: Citizens join hands to oppose Coast Road project

Say project is anti-people and anti-environment

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | May 20, 2016 | Mumbai


#Coast Road   #Environment   #Mumbai  

Some 15 citizen organisations and resident associations have come together on a common platform called Apna Mumbai Abhiyan to protest against big infrastructure projects in the city approved without public consultations.

On Thursday, Taking on the 33-km-long Coast Road, the first in its weekly series, environmentalist, Darryl D’ Monte said “Even before obtaining the final clearance from ministry of environment and forests in April 2016, the BMC has issued four ‘expression of interests’ documents for four stretches of the coast road indicating that it is proceeding on identifying international consultants and their Indian partners.”

The group strongly objected the lack of consultation with citizens on the project. The civic body has instead put up a highly technical detailed project report on its website which is not understood by most people, they said. They claimed that repeated attempts by the concerned citizens to engage with the BMC officials on the alignment and impact of the coast road failed to receive favourable response.

The group  slammed BMC for asking MoEF  to waive conditions imposed by  MCZMA (Maharashtra  coastal zone management authority) which includes setting aside 2 percent of the total project cost  which is Rs 240 crores (out of the total Rs 12000 crores) towards mitigation measures ( like restoration and conservation of mangroves  and mudflats, planting five times the number of mangroves cut or destroyed  during construction process and obtaining  high court’s  permission  before clearing mangroves, submitting  a study of impact of clearing of  mangroves  on the flooding  of  low lying areas along the coast, ensuring that no fishing activity was hampered during construction and operation  of coast road  and creating a green belt  around the road).

Hussain Indorewala, a faculty at the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture and Environmental Studies, said that on one hand the government demolishes houses built on forest land citing environment laws and on the other it itself is doing a project against it.

The Independent People’s Tribunal held a public hearing in October 2015. The tribunal which includes members like Justice (Retd) Hosbet Suresh, former municipal commissioners - DM Sukhtankar and Jamsheed Kanga, BC Khatua(IAS Retired)  and director of Mumbai Transformation Support Unit, Dr Rakesh Kumar. Chief scientist, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute in its report published in March 2016 has unanimously opposed coast road terming it anti-people, anti-environment and demanding the project to be scrapped.    
 

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