In a move that will not only provide convenient and eco-friendly travel to the residents of Boisar Industrial Area but will also promote tourism in and around Kelwa Beach, the Bombay High Court has permitted the construction of a passenger jetty near the existing fishermen jetty at Kelwa in Palghar. Kelwa beach is Maharashtra's largest fishing zone and has several temples and forts. The court was assured that no mangroves will be destroyed here for the jetty.
In a 55-page judgment dated October 29, the HC has permitted the construction of passenger jetties at Kelwa in Palghar, at Kharekuran and a Ro-Ro Jetty at Kharwadashri, abutting the mangroves in the eco-sensitive zone.
While permitting the construction near the eco-sensitive areas comprising mangroves, the court observed, “CRZ-I (Coastal Zone Regulation) cannot be interpreted to mean a zone which freezes every activity… Setting up of a jetty is clearly not seen to be a prohibited activity but a regulated activity.”
The judges said, “In interpreting the 2011 CRZ Notification, it cannot be overlooked that the object of the notification is not merely protecting the environment but also while doing so promoting the development through sustainable manner, which is also a significant object being achieved in regulating activities in the coastal zone areas.”
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni was hearing three petitions filed by the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB), a statutory board tasked with developing, conserving, regulating, facilitating and administering the non-major port limits on the coast of Maharashtra, seeking permission to construct two passenger jetties and a Ro-Ro jetty.
The MMB filed the petitions since an earlier order of the HC had imposed a total freeze on destruction of any mangroves in the state and any construction activity therein without specific permission from the HC. The petition was filed by the Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG), seeking protection of mangroves.
MMB’s advocate Saket Mone argued that the passenger jetty would be constructed near the approved fishermen jetty at Kelwa for providing additional and a convenient and an eco-friendly travel option for the persons staying in the areas along the Boisar Industrial Area. this would also boost tourism and economic activity in the area by increasing the inflow of tourists in and around Kelwa beach.
Besides, the proposed project is based on the principles of public utility, sustainable development and eco-friendly transportation systems, aimed at benefiting the citizens and not premised on any private or commercial gain.
Also, the Board has acquired all necessary clearance from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) and the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA).
BEAG did not oppose the MMB’s petitions but contended that it was the government’s duty to undertake sustainable development wherein a balance is maintained between environmental protection and developmental activities. The HC has asked the authority to submit an undertaking within two weeks that it will comply with the conditions.