Mumbai: The Maharashtra government received a major jolt on Friday when the Bombay High Court scrapped the proposal to construct a casting yard at Juhu beach for the Bandra-Versova sea link. The court also held as illegal permissions granted by Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) for constructing the yard.
(A casting yard is a confined place where concrete structures like segments, parapets, girders, beams and boundary wall panels are manufactured.) This means the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation will now have to either look for another site for constructing the yard, or get orders of the high court quashed by the Supreme Court.
A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Nitin Jamdar said even if the casting yard is intended to be a temporary structure, it will still have adverse impact on the environment and the damage would be permanent.
“It is being stated that the yard would be temporary, but foot prints left by the structure, after the machinery brought to the site is removed, would be lasting and adversely impact the coastal stretch,” said CJ Nandrajog, while setting aside the MCZMA permission.
The bench was dealing with a PIL filed by activist Zoru Bhathena, who had claimed the MSRDC, by constructing the casting yard on the Juhu Koliwada beach, was illegally reclaiming a portion of the beach. He further claimed MSRDC is constructing the casting yard without obtaining the requisite green clearances.
According to Bhathena, MSRDC was dumping mud on the beach, thereby not only reclaiming the area, but also restricting sea water supply to mangroves in the stretch. “Around 7.9 hectare of the beach area was being affected due to the casting yard work,” Bhathena claimed.
The MSRDC, on the other hand, justified its stand and claimed it was ‘empowered’ by the Coastal Regulation Zone Authority to construct the yard at Juhu.
Having considered the rival contentions, the bench said, “The casting of slabs would obviously require a hard ground surface and we see no escape from the common sense conclusion that the nature of the activities are akin to a building activity.”
Whilst it may be true that the law permits building work, reclamation and bunding for constructing sea-links, it should not mean that under the garb of ancillary activities land reclamation is permitted and that too on an area admeasuring 78,392.12 square metre, CJ Nandrajog held.