Taking note of the adverse impact of the seawall being built by the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) at Aksa Beach, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has admitted an application filed by environmentalists challenging the structure.
“Prima facie, we find that substantial questions related to adverse impact on the environment is raised,” the western bench of the NGT remarked in its order after hearing out the advocate for applicants B N Kumar, Director of NatConnect Foundation and Zoru Bathena, a Mumbai-based activist.
Violation of CRZ Norms and Clearances
Applicants B N Kumar, Director of NatConnect Foundation, and Zoru Bathena raised concerns that the seawall violates the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) 1 norms as it is being constructed in the middle of the beach.
It also violates the clearance given by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), which prohibits construction on the beach but allows "beautification" on the landward side of the beach and CRZ 2.
Conditional CRZ Clearance and Environmental Impact
The MMB, claiming to have necessary clearances, filed an affidavit before the NGT. However, the applicants' advocate pointed out that the CRZ clearance quoted by the MMB was conditional, with the MCZMA emphasising that no solid construction should be carried out in the intertidal area.
Photographic evidence was presented to the NGT, highlighting the adverse impact of the wall on the environment.
Notices Issued to Concerned Authorities
The NGT issued notices to the MCZMA, the state environment department, and the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) to file their responses within four weeks.
The application also mentioned that NatConnect had previously alerted the MOEFCC about the wall, and the ministry had requested the MCZMA to investigate the matter.
Opposition to the Seawall and Request for Clearances
The MCZMA expressed its concerns regarding the seawall, stating that sea-walls and bunds are counterproductive to beach preservation and flood protection.
Despite this, the MMB proceeded with the construction, splitting the picturesque beach into two. The applicants' advocate pleaded for the revocation of all clearances granted to the MMB.