Residents and environmentalists are upset as the public works department (PWD) has resumed work on the construction of a retaining wall at Versova beach.
Construction work began in December 2019. But it was stopped in March 2020 after locals and activists raised objections with the state government stating that the beach falls under the coastal regulation zone and Wildlife Protection Act as it is a nesting site for Olive Ridley turtles. However, work began again in July 2021.Environmentalist Zoru Bhathena said that the ongoing work is being carried out without the necessary permissions and that he will move the High Court if work is not called off.
“Tetrapods have been placed at this beach, which has been identified as a nesting ground for turtles. The current construction work is being carried out illegally,” Bhathena said.
“Last year, we had written a letter to the concerned authorities. After which, the PWD had ordered to stop the work. However, this year, they have resumed the work. We will take legal action if they don't stop,” he added.
Meanwhile, the PWD claims that the 1.2-km wall is being constructed to protect the existing compound wall of residential properties adjoining the beach. A senior PWD official said that 90% of the wall has been completed and the remaining work will be completed in the next 15 days.
“Currently, work of placing tetrapods and boulders is on. This is being done to control the flow of tidal waves. Every year during monsoon, the waves batter the compound walls of the adjoining buildings. This is dangerous to life and property,” the official said.
He added, “We have taken all the necessary permission from all the concerned authorities before taking up the project. Many residents who live near the beach have supported this move,” the official added.
However, director of an NGO, Vanashakti, Stalin Dayanand has also written a letter to the state minister of environment Aaditya Thackeray, seeking his immediate intervention on the issue.
“Placing tetrapods on the beach will lead to sand erosion. It’s high time that the state government takes action to protect the beaches,” Stalin said.
Senior member of Lokhandwala Oshiwara Citizen's Association Anil Garg echoed the same views saying that all open spaces are shrinking due to various ongoing infrastructure projects. Meanwhile, Bhathena along some residents will be staging a protest at the beach on Saturday morning.
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