The Supreme Court on Monday modified an order of the Bombay High Court directing the BMC to maintain status quo and stop all reclamation work for the coastal road project in Mumbai for now.
The proposed coastal road is around 35.56 km in length from north to south Mumbai. Around 168 hectares of coastal stretch, mostly rocky shore, is being reclaimed.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta, while hearing a special leave petition filed by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, modified the order of the high court to the extent that it allowed the contractors Larsen & Toubro, HCC-HDC joint venture and other agencies “to continue with the works that had already commenced but not to undertake any fresh works.”
In their April 16 order, the division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice NM Jamdar had followed the Supreme Court’s lead in environmental jurisprudence and the precautionary principle which flows from the maxim: in dubio pro natura that is ‘In case of doubt, in favour of the nature.’
The State of Maharashtra and Corporation had argued before the high court that this stoppage of work would cause a loss of Rs 10 crore per day to the state exchequer. The petitioners, an NGO Society for Improvement, Greenery and Nature, and activist Shweta Wagh argued that for the northern side of the project, i.e., from Bandra to Versova, the corporation had to obtain environmental clearance because of the order passed by the National Green Tribunal on February 19, 2015.
SC Order
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared on behalf of the petitioner corporation and Senior Advocates Shyam Divan and Colin Gonsalves appeared on behalf of the original petitioners in the PIL before the high court.
It was argued on behalf of the corporation that contractors should be allowed to complete the work they had already begun before the HC’s order as monsoon approaches and contractors may suffer more losses if HC order is not stayed.
The apex court disposed of the special leave petitions and noted: “We also make it clear that the execution of the works will be at the risk of the contractors and the same shall abide by such order as may be passed by the High Court. We request the High Court to dispose of the matter on 3rd June, 2019 or any date immediately thereafter. As all the contesting parties have appeared before us, we do not see any reason to keep the matters pending here.”