Mumbai: Opposition to coastal road continues: Environmentalists

While the issue of felling trees at Tata Gardens in Breach Candy for the coastal road project (CRP) seems to have been resolved between a group of local residents and the BMC, the opposition to reclamation of land for the coastal road and its impact on marine ecology and local fishing community continues.

After the Bombay high court vacated its stay, the BMC resumed felling of trees at Tata Gardens last week, which met severe protests from residents. Following this, senior BMC officials associated with the project held a meeting with residents on July 9. During this, the BMC highlighted the technicalities of the project and explained the importance of creating a traffic exit at the point where Tata Garden stands. Following the meeting, some residents appreciated the fact that the BMC had given them a patient hearing and stated that they understand the BMC had done the best they could to save the trees.

However, environmentalists who have filed petitions against the CRP have said that the issue stands pending in the Supreme Court (SC) and the CRP is still being opposed by citizens.

“The SC, itself, has said that this project will be subjected to the outcome of the petitions. It is clear that the work carried out by the BMC is in violation of the CRZ clearance and should have been stopped by MCZMA and MoEF,” said Debi Goenka, executive trustee of Conservation Action Trust (CAT) and one of the petitioners, told FPJ on Sunday.

Goenka stressed that even if those who were only opposing the felling of trees at Tata Garden may have ended their protest, those interested in the larger issues surrounding the CRP continue to oppose the project as earlier.

“There are original petitions of 2019 that are still under appeal and pending. Furthermore, the BMC has started unauthorised reclamation of additional 22 hectares of land,” said Cyrus Guzder, another petitioner.

"Even if the MoEF does now grant its approval, there are court judgements making it clear that environmental approvals cannot be retrospectively applied," Guzder pointed out.

Zia Sud, another environmentalist and local Breach Candy resident said that opposition against the coastal road will continue as it will deprive the livelihoods of the fisherfolks and will also affect the marine ecology adversely.

"We will stand firmly behind projects that are sustainable and eco-friendly, there is scientific evidence to show that projects like CRP will worsen flooding and increase risk of damage to property and lives," Sud told FPJ.

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