Bombay High Court Blocks Coastal Road Project for now; Asks for New Environmental Clearances
The Bombay High Court today has upheld the claim in a set of petitions that the ambitious, eight-lane, 29.2km long coastal road project, connecting Churchgate in the south and Kandivili in the north, needs proper environmental clearances.
 
The bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice NM Jamdar stayed the Rs14,000-crore project and quashed the CRZ (coastal regulation zone) clearances granted to it.
 
Although the municipal corporation had claimed that it had a final clearance from ministry of environment, forest and climate change on 11 November 2017, senior counsel Janak Dwarkadas, appearing for the petitioners, said this was a faulty and illegal green clearance.
 
There was already a stay on construction of the project during the hearing, but today’s order will put an end to the project until the government obtains fresh clearances. 
 
This is a big victory for the petitioners, who include two leading fishermen associations (Worli Koliwada Nakwa and Worli Machimar Sarvodaya) Conservation Action Trust, Society for Improvement, Greenery, and Nature, Vanashakti and activists like Prakash Laxman Chandekar, Debi Goenka who took the initiative. 
 
The coastal road is planned to be a 29.2km stretch, connecting Churchgate in the south and Kandivili in the north. The project had to take permissions from various bodies and it received it’s final clearance from ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) on 11 November 2017.

The petitioners requested for stopping the execution of this project due to the increasing threat to environment and the adverse effect it will have on the coral and marine life of the region especially the geomorphological features of coastline and the degradation of sensitive coastal vegetation. The interests of the fishermen and people at large were ignored, they argued. 
 
The government argued that this action the coastal road would reduce pollution, by saving as much as three hours of travel which, today causes eye irritation, bronchitis, cough and other ailments. 
 
In spite of the fact that the project had received permissions and fulfilled the required standards informed by various bodies, the court found it essential for the project to require the environmental clearance under environmental impact assessment (EIA) notification. 
 
In April this year, the High Court had restrained the BMC from carrying out any further work on the project. This prompted BMC to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.
 
In May, the Supreme Court allowed the corporation to carry out existing work but prohibited it from carrying out any new work. It had also directed the Bombay High Court to take up the matter for final hearing. 
 
And today, on 16th July, in the Bombay High Court, the bench said:
 
“We hold that there is a lack of proper scientific study and this has been overlooked by MCZMA(Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority), EIA (Environmental Assessment Report) and MoEF warranting the approval granted by MCZMA on 4th January 2017, the approval granted by EAC on 17th March 2017 and the final approval granted by MoEF on 11th May, 2017 are liable to be quashed and set aside. We quash the decision taken by MCZMA on 4th January 2017 and the approval granted by MoEF on 11th May 2017 on said ground alone.”
 
It declared that MCGM cannot proceed with the work without obtaining the Environment clearance and further permission under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. 
 
The Court also observed that “it is settled law that an administrative or a statutory decision has to be taken by the Executive after properly applying its mind to all relevant material which ought to be in the mind of the authority while taking the decision. Both MCZMA and MoEF have not taken into account, in spite of being informed, that the Metro Rail Project in Mumbai was under construction and the Metro Network to be constructed would run parallel to the proposed coastal road. It was covering the entire South-North of the city. The impact of the Metro of being able to transport commuters was extremely necessary and important keeping in mind that the reclamation of land to construct a coastal road is permitted only in an exceptional case, and as opined by us, to determine whether a case was an exceptional case warranted the same to be considered from the point of view of a crying need of the city bordering the dying need of the city.”
 
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    COMMENTS

    Sudhir Jatar

    1 month ago

    All we are asking is to be within the law and not take shortcuts just because it helps if large amounts are spent

    Lalit Mulay

    1 month ago

    Without any prejudice on High Court . I think they hurried towards their decision.
    Fishermen go very deep into the sea for fishing .They don’t fish on the coast line.Is there any study done by the petitioners to know how much fishes fishermen have catched in last 10 years from where the coastal road is going to get built? what income did they received by selling those fishes ?if they have received good income have they paid any taxes to the govt.?When companies like ONGC extract any gas from a sea they have to pay charges to the Indian Govt. Petitioners are firing the bullets by keeping the gun on fishermen shoulders. I am unable to know how are fishes even breathing in our coastline when all the untreated sewage water of Mumbai viz 2 billion litres per day is thrown in the same sea from last 40 years. Have petitioners filed a case against the BMC for that ? Also where was high court when project was cleared by environmental ministry in 2017 ? How can you stop a project which is awarded after getting environmental clearance ? Is there any kind of negative environmental report from NGT,IIT or NEERI? What about the investors who have invested & taken up this project .So tomorrow if this investors put a case against BMC for their losses and if BMC loses the case from whose pocket bmc is going to pay ? This will make a negative impact on foreign investors who wants to invest in infrastructure projects in India? It is not question of how much traffic will be diverted . you cannot dig a well when you are thirsty? you need to have a vision considering increase of traffic in next 100 years. Look at the busiest railway station i.e CST which was built by Britishers more than 100 years back . The population then was hardly anything but even today you don't find the station overcrowded or messy. That's the vision. They had considered the traffic keeping 100 years in mind. After some days if high court gives a green signal for this project and if the cost increases from 14k Cr to 17kCr are petitioner going to pay the difference amount to build the road ?

    REPLY

    ROHIT SAXENA

    In Reply to Lalit Mulay 1 month ago

    Its the duty of the proposer of the project to do the impact study. Petitioner does not have obligation to prove negative impact if no study is done by project proposer.

    Sudhir Jatar

    In Reply to Lalit Mulay 1 month ago

    There are scientific ways to work out the future traffic in the next 10, 20, 30 years and so on. This has to be done to support the necessity to spend so much of the public money. We have had instances in Pune where the municipal corporation built flyovers costing more that 100 crores to reduce congestion. But the effect was opposite although we had filed a PIL in the High Court right at the start that the Detailed Project Report was fudged and it is already a decade but the flyover has only added to the congestion. Hopefully our PIL will soon be heard fo the final hearing. There is another case where a pedestrian overbridge was built and after about five years it was demolished because there was hardly any usage. The columns were successful in blocking the footpaths at both ends!

    P M Ravindran

    1 month ago

    @1000 cr per km of the road it is indeed a high cost to the exchequer. With that kind of money wouldn't it be possible to redevelop slums and find land for improving the suburban railway system? I had even read suggestions to the effect of doubling the rake length and stopping the train with half the rakes on platforms alternately, that is the front half in station 1,3,5 etc and the rear half on platforms 2,4,6 etc. Equally important is the need to decongest Mumbai. How about shifting the capital itself to somewhere near the center of the state? Not a thuglakan idea with the possibilities available these days.

    As far as the decision of the Mumbai High Court is concerned I can only say that, as usual, our judges seem to be under the impression that they are the only sensible persons in this country and even that they God's own gift to the les mserables like us. Otherwise how can they rubbish the decisions of three competent authorities like MCZMA, EAC and MoEF?

    REPLY

    ROHIT SAXENA

    In Reply to P M Ravindran 1 month ago

    Point raised by Court regarding not taking Metro development into account make sense IMHO. Given the cost of project, will it not be better to invest in public transport?

    Sudhir Jatar

    1 month ago

    We have scrutinised the Detailed Project Report (DPR). It has not established the need for the coastal road (CR). The objectives have not been quantified accurately e.g. the number of vehicles that will be diverted to the CR in a given time frame from the existing parallel roads. The Objective as stated in the Report: “This report presents studies carried out under guidance of Hon’ble Additional Municipal Commissioner (Eastern Suburb) to verify feasibility of the proposed coastal road and recommendations for detailed design stage of the project.” The aim of making this road is not quantified and the objective shows that the GoM or BMC has already made up its mind to make the CR. This is the most unprofessional objective anyone can come across ever and anywhere. One does not write, “under the guidance of Hon’ble Additional Commissioner” when this worthy is not qualified enough to make a DPR.
    The Origin-Destination (OD) survey does not include “willingness to use the road” as one of the questions. The consultant has assumed that all commuters would use the CR. In fact, the surveys have not been conducted as per the Indian Roads Congress codes and mandates.
    For all costly projects, it is essential to first work out the feasibility for any alternatives that may exist. This is a major drawback of the DPR. Here the issue is not ‘for’ or ‘against’. It is whether the CR is needed and if so, at what cost?
    The other drawbacks in traffic surveys are; i) Sample size not given, ii) Speed & Delay (S&D) survey done only on one corridor, iii) S&D survey not attached, iv) In the OD survey, type of vehicles counted and sample size is not given, v) The format and questionnaire including willingness for using CR not given, vi) Classified volume count done but categorisation not given. Only total number of vehicles are given.
    Impact of Ganesh idols immersion on the tunnel both due to weight, change in soil conditions and social repercussions when certain beaches will not be available for immersion have not been considered.
    In paragraph 15.9 “Conclusion from Economic analysis and Financial analysis”, it is stated, “From the economic analysis results it may be concluded that, the construction of the proposed Coastal road may be considered as economically viable.” However, paragraph 13.7 shows a negative Economic IRR at -2.55 % with a meagre 1.47 % as Project IRR:There is further confusion in the statement that follows in Paragraph 15.9, “From the Financial analysis results it may be concluded that, the construction of the proposed Coastal is road financially not viable on BOT Basis.”

    JAYENDRA PANDYA

    1 month ago

    Without any prejudice for court's order and with due respect to judiciary...

    Prima facie, it appears that court has taken its decision in hurry and moreover it is over exceeding its jurisdiction in quashing the decision of ministry. If the ministry has cleared the project, how can court hold "that there is a lack of proper scientific study and this has been overlooked by MCZMA (Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority), EIA (Environmental Assessment Report) and MoEF".

    Those who are opposing & stalling it should be taken to other countries and shown the benefits of such projects. Some of the petitioners who are opposing the project has themselves reclaimed the sea-bed and established housing colonies and thereby endangered the environment. Take the examples of Colaba, Mahim, Versova, Marve, etc.

    One has to use their judgement taking into account the overall impact of this project. If the petitioners have scientific study about the environment degradation of such project it should be tabled before the ministry and debated.

    Simply opposing and stalling it will overshoot the budget of such a large project and ultimately its burden will be on the citizens.

    Let us hope that the said project is decided on its merits. Sooner the better.

    M. T. Chiddarwar

    1 month ago

    Such individuals and organisations are funded by anti India groups

    Railways plans to add 4 lakh berths from October by leaving power cars
    The Indian Railways which carries over 12 lakh passengers every day, aims to provide four lakh more berths for passengers every day from October when it will adopt the technology to generate power from the locomotives instead of the two power cars, railway officials said on Wednesday.
     
    A senior Railway Ministry official related to the development told IANS: "Currently there are one or two power cars attached to the train with diesel generators to supply electricity connection to run the air conditioning units, fans and lights in the train coaches."
     
    The power cars are also called as End on Generation (EOG). The official said that from October onwards, the railways will introduce the new technology known as "Head on Generation" (HOG), which is currently used worldwide to generate power for the AC units, fans and lights in train coaches.
     
    The official said with the HOG technology, the power to provide electric supply to the AC units, fans, lights from the overhead power lines and then is distributed to train coaches. According to the railway ministry officials, by October 2019, over 5,000 coaches of the Indian Railways will operate on the new technology.
     
    "By adopting the HOG technology we will make way for more coaches," the official said, adding that it will also save Rs 6,000 crore in fuel bills annually," said the official.
     
    He pointed out that a power car needs about 40 litres of diesel per hour per non-AC coach while an AC coach needs 65-70 litres of diesel per hour. The official also said the new system is eco-friendly as no air or noise pollution will be there and it will help in reducing carbon emissions by 700 MT per year per train.
     
    The official said by removing one power car from the train, the railways can add a passenger coach in the train thus increasing the number of berths in the train without increasing the train length. 
     
    Giving the example of Rajdhani Express, the official said the Rajdhanis are currently hauled by a single locomotive with two diesel-powered generator cars at the rear to provide air conditioning and lighting within the train.
     
    "After carrying out extensive tests, we have decided to remove the power cars. Power, obtained from the overhead cables through the pantograph of the lead engine, will be converted for providing air conditioning and lighting. This will be done through what in technical parlance is known as a hotel load converter," he said.
     
    "By doing so we can attach two more AC-3 tier coaches to the train," he said. Rajdhani Express trains currently have 22 coaches with over 1,200 berths of various categories. 
     
    "Once the power cars are removed, they will be replaced with two additional AC-3 tier coaches, adding 130 berths," the official said.
     
    He said that once all LHB coaches are on this system, there will be an increase of more than four lakh berths everyday and thus additional revenue as well. The railways earlier this year tried to increase the speed and number of berths in Hazrat Nizamuddin-Mumbai Rajdhani Express by hauling it with two locomotives, one from front and the other at the rear. 
     
    The official said the trial run was approved on Feb 7 by the Research Design and Standard Organisation (RDSO). The pilot project led to the saving of over 105 minutes of travel time between New Delhi and Mumbai as it covered the 1,543 km in about than 17 hours from the previous 19 hours.
     
    The official pointed out that the push-and-pull technology, being tried out, is successfully adopted globally. This not only increases a train's hauling capacity but also reduces jerks when the brakes are applied as the load gets equally distributed through all the coaches," the official said.
     
    A senior railway ministry official said the railways has last year experimented with twin-locomotives on the Rajdhani, with both engines in front. However, it was found that this did not make for a smooth ride.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    suneel kumar gupta

    1 month ago

    I appreciate this type of moove.use of technology, allround benifits

    BMC Sets up New Advisory Panel on Bridges
    The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to appoint a new advisory committee for bridges in the metro city. The committee will have experts and renowned engineers, who will conduct a re-audit of all the bridges in Mumbai that are closed. This was announced by BMC commissioner Praveen Pardeshi after a meeting with activists concerned over the traffic chaos triggered by the shut-down of nearly 30 bridges in Mumbai.
     
    A delegation comprising Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam, renowned structural engineer Shirish Patel, Moneylife Foundation's trustee Sucheta Dalal, RTI activist Anil Galgali and transport activist Ajit V Shenoy, Dr Nori and others met the commissioner to discuss the possibility of salvaging some of the existing bridges, if possible, by a re-assessment.
     
    Mr Nirupam started the discussion by highlighting the chaos triggered by the closure of bridges and the hardship that it was causing people. He told the BMC commissioner that based on a discussion by persons with domain expertise, it was felt that the problem could be mitigated by re-examining some decisions. 
     
     
    Accepting the demand for re-auditing city bridges, Mr Pardeshi asked BMC officials to start work on the setting up of the committee, including roles and responsibilities. Mr Patel pointed out that the BMC needs to examine the original designs of bridges from the companies who built them so that alternate solutions could be explored. Mr Pardeshi accepted this suggestion and asked his engineering department to look for the original plans, which may be over 30 to 40 years old. 
     
     
    There was also a discussion on the method of selecting companies to build and re-design the bridges. Mr Pardeshi shared the BMC’s plans to move away from the method of selecting the lowest cost bid and move towards more innovative solutions to this problem. Mr Pardeshi also accepted Mr Patel’s suggestion that municipal engineers need training and refresher courses to familiarise themselves with the latest developments in the field.
     
    Earlier this month, Moneylife Foundation had invited Alpa Sheth, a highly qualified and respected structural engineer from VMS Consultants to inform us on the current status of Mumbai’s urban infrastructure. After an hour of productive discussion, the activists, employees of the Railways and BMC, as well as experts who were present at the session had mutually agreed that a common administrative group needs to be formed to oversee and take charge of all the infrastructure issues that the city is facing. There was also general consensus to get the BMC commissioner involved in this process and perhaps that is where the concerned citizens should make a beginning.
     
    The meeting with Mr Pardeshi was the next step in this direction.
     
    Through her talk, Ms Sheth had proposed possible solutions to the problem and it starts with stopping demolitions of bridges based on flimsy audit reports done by a single person. She reaffirmed that there has to be a cadre of 'certified bridge audit engineers' who have been trained with IRC manuals and codes. Furthermore, the training can be done by Indian Association of Bridge and Structural Engineers (IABSE), perhaps in collaboration with the Indian Academy of Highway Engineers. “Instead of playing the blame game, everyone involved should take equal responsibility - consultants including IIT professors, government engineers, contractors and more."
     
    "Conversely, every time we have a bridge deemed by a consultant as unfit for use, we need to have a committee review this and see the cost-benefit ratio to carry out repairs to extend its life until a replacement bridge is in place, rather than simply demolishing it without a Plan B in place. The culture of cronyism in the selection of consultants and contractors needs to be done away with, if we have the intention of improving the infrastructure of the city," Ms Sheth had said.      
     
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    RAJENDRA RAMCHANDRA KOTI

    2 months ago

    Very heartening to read this. 3 pillars of democracy working together to solve societal issues.

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