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‘No proper sanction’: SC stalls work on Versova beach wall | Mumbai News – Times of India


MUMBAI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked tough questions about the Versova beach wall construction and ordered status quo after an activist filed an appeal against a recent National Green Tribunal (NGT) order which allowed its construction. A bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Pankaj Mithal came down on the Maharashtra state public works department (PWD) saying it cannot destroy a beach like this.
“We feel that proper permission is not granted,” said the bench headed by Justice Oka. “There has been no application of mind by MCZMA (Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority) and SEIAA (State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority) regarding the effect of putting tetrapods on the beach. Just because tetrapods have been put at other places like Marine Drive does not mean it should also be done at Versova beach,” the SC bench said orally, observing the government should be careful about what they do. The SC has issued notices to all parties to respond to the appeal filed by green activist Zoru Bhathena.

When the matter came up before the bench, Bhathena’s senior counsel Gopal Sankaranarayanan said, “This is a serious matter.” The bench responded, “Yes, we agree.”
The senior counsel submitted no permission was granted for constructing the wall and said, “For less, this court directed demolition of the Maradu Towers in Cochin.”
Bhathena’s plea said the issue is about “construction of an entirely new anti-sea erosion” wall on the beach, for which no permission was recommended by MCZMA or granted by the SEIAA.
In 2016, on recommendation of the Central Water and Power Research Station (CWPRS), PWD proposed construction of an anti-sea erosion bund before MCZMA.
MCZMA had in 2017 recommended “reconstruction of an anti-sea erosion wall” with minimum reclamation.
The appeal filed this month said the PWD was only permitted to repair the existing wall and not to construct a new one at a location away from it. It contended the area reclaimed between the old wall and new has taken the shape of a motorable road, which was a natural sandy beach used for walking, in the face of rejection of a walkway proposed by MCZMA.
Opposing the appeal, Saket Mone, counsel for the state PWD, said it was a project of public importance with necessary permissions in place. He said it was almost 95% complete. Before NGT, PWD said the anti-erosion wall was intended to provide coastal protection after representatives of Versova locals complained of flooding at the beach causing property losses.
Bhathena had gone to the NGT seeking orders for demolition of the new wall and restoration of the beach. The NGT had dismissed his plea.
Bhathena’s appeal before the SC said NGT also failed to consider the destruction of a natural nesting site of Olive Ridley turtles sans permission under Wildlife (Protection) Act. The SC ordered a status quo which would mean the project stays where it is and work on it cannot continue.



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