Mumbai: Observing that by the next 10 years, the population of Mumbai and its demand for water would increase many folds, the Bombay High Court on Monday vacated the stay, it had imposed on the construction work of a dam on Kalu river. The stay has been vacated after a gap of nearly eight years from now.
A bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Riyaz Chagla vacated the stay on the construction work of the Kalu dam at Murbad town in neighbouring Thane district.
The stay was imposed in March 2012 after another bench of the HC led by Justice (now retd.) DD Sinha found that the requisite green clearances were not obtained by the then Maharashtra government from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).
The project has been in a limbo since then despite the fact that various division benches of the HC sought to know the stand of the MoEF. However, when the matter came up for hearing before Justice Dharmadikari on Monday, the bench vacated the stay.
“By 2031, there would be an increase in the population of Mumbai and the nearby cities. This dam is aimed at providing water supply to Mumbai and the neighbouring districts like Thane, Ulhasnagar and New Mumbai,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.
“Thus, we are of the considered opinion that the project work must resume and the stay must be vacated. However, we clarify that the construction can start only after the government obtains the requisite green clearances,” Justice Dharmadhikari said while vacating the stay.
The bench was dealing with a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO – Shramik Mukti Sanghatana – highlighting the alleged ‘high-handedness’ of the authorities for proceeding with the construction work of the dam without conforming with the mandatory rules and the due procedure of law.
It also argued that the project would submerge an area of 2,100 hectares, including 1,000 hectares of dense forest.
Apart from this petition, the project was opposed by the tribals living in the area, who also refused to accept the rehabilitation offers by the then government.