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Declaring Bhuleshwar and Bandra Reclamation in Mumbai as ‘Bays’, the HC directed Costal Zone Authority to give clearances to two projects that were outside the CRZ norms for bays
The Bombay High Court, while accepting the certificate issued by Institute of Remote Sensing (IRS) for deciding upon the Costal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, asked the authority to provide clearances for two projects, one in Bhuleshwar and the other in Bandra Reclamation.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice BP Colabawalla, while declaring sections of Bandra Reclamation and Bhuleshwar as ‘Bays’, directed the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) to give necessary clearances within six weeks, for constructing projects in those areas. The petition was filed by two developers - Marine Drive Hospitality & Realty (representing the Bhuleshwar project) and Om Metals Consortium (for the Bandra Reclamation project).
The MCZMA had refused to grant clearances to these two projects on the basis that they breached CRZ norms, which restricts construction activity 500 metres from the high tide line. However, there are different Regulations that govern Bays, according to which restrictions are only applicable to a zone 100m from the high tide line. (This regulation applies to all “tidal influence water bodies” including “bays, estuaries, rivers, creeks, backwaters, lagoons, ponds connected to the sea or creeks and the like”.)
The HC accepted a certificate issued by Chennai-based IRS, according to which the concerned areas were not under the CRZ.
The MCZMA defended its stance by stating that the clearance for an earlier project near Mahim Bay was based on the fact that the certification from IRS received by those developers clearly specified that the area concerned was under a specific subsection of the CRZ norms – CRZ IVA, unlike the current cases.
The Bench, judgement said, “There is no substance in the contention being raised by MCZMA.... the Institute of Remote Sensing, has clearly certified that the project site falls outside 100 metres. Once this position is not disputed, it is of no consequence whether in petitioners' case the Institute of Remote Sensing has classified the water body as CRZ IVA.”
“The IRS was basically concerned with determining whether the water body at Mahim/Back Bay was indeed a 'bay' and if so, demarcation of the high-tide-line and area of 100 meters there from, which could be identified as CRZ area.” the decision reads.