Coastal Road Project: EAC Approves Amendment to CRZ That Will Allow Additional Reclamation in the Sea

Coastal Road Project: EAC Approves Amendment to CRZ That Will Allow Additional Reclamation in the Sea

Mumbai’s ambitious Coastal Road Project has received a boost in the form of approval from the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for a new amendment in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance that would allow further reclamation in the sea. The EAC has since sent over the proposal to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) for its final nod along with some conditions. 

The minutes from the EAC meeting reveal that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been asked to keep an eye on the growth of marine life and intertidal habitats while also exploring the idea of artificial reefs with the Mangrove Foundation so as to promote marine diversity in the region. The BMC is responsible for the construction of the Coastal Road Project. 

The civic body has also been asked to implement measures to conserve corals as per the Biodiversity Management Plan. Additionally, the committee has asked the BMC to conduct annual monitoring of the shoreline of the project site as well as sea levels at least four locations along the path of the Coastal Road using an automated gauge. This meeting was held on the 5th of March via video conferencing although the minutes of the meeting were only published on March 16. 

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The BMC filed affidavits with the Supreme Court (SC) last year saying that it will require an additional 21 hectares of space in the sea as compared to the 90 hectares sought originally. This was also when environmentalists had filed petitions with the Supreme Court to stay the project. As it stands, the Coastal Road Project will need around 111 hectares. Around 6.51 hectares of this land will be used for additional reclamation and around 14.49 hectares will go towards building the sea wall.

Although this caused some concern among environmentalists, the BMC later clarified that they currently have permissions for the reclamation of 90 hectares of land, and any further reclamation will not be conducted without permissions from the Centre.

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Debi Goenka, Environmentalist and one of the petitioners seeking a stay in the project said, “The EAC did not discuss a single suggestion or submissions given by petitioners. I requested a site visit for MCZMA members to verify illegal reclamation done by the BMC without even having requisite permission, but that was also not considered. The manner in which MCZMA meeting was conducted was not right and was also not discussed in EAC,” said Debi Goenka, an environmentalist, and one of the petitioners.”

The BMC has reportedly finished more than 24 per cent of the work on the Coastal Road Project while the competition deadline has been set for July 2023.

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