The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear the appeals challenging the Bombay High Court verdict which had quashed the CRZ clearances granted to Mumbai civic body’s ambitious Rs 14,000-crore coastal road project.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S A Bobde and Justice S A Nazeer was told by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the matter, which was last heard in July this year, required an urgent hearing.
Mehta, appearing for Mumbai's civic body, said as the court was busy with the Ayodhya matter, this case could not be taken up on August 20 as assured and it may now be listed for hearing.
“We are still busy... We can transfer this to some other bench,” the court said. The solicitor general, however, insisted that as this bench was aware of the facts, so, the appeal may be heard by it only. “All right, we will see,” the Bench said.
It had said earlier that it would hear on August 20, the appeals in which had sought an interim stay on the High Court's verdict quashing the CRZ clearances the Mumbai's coastal road project. The apex court had sought response from fishermen's association, activists and residents on whose petitions the High Court on July 16 quashed the CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) clearances, saying there was “serious lacuna” in the decision-making process and lack of proper scientific study.
“Notice on interim relief. The matter to be heard on August 20,” had said the Bench. The Bench was hearing the appeals filed by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, Larsen and Toubro Ltd and HCC HDC JV.
The Municipal Corporation had submitted that CRZ clearance was granted on the undisputed land and the HC's order be stayed. However, the apex court had said that it will hear the parties concerned first on the pleas. A division Bench of the high court in its ruling had said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) cannot proceed with work on the 29.2 km project, which proposes to connect Marine Drive area in south Mumbai to suburban Borivali in north Mumbai.
The high court had noted that the environmental clearance was required to be taken by the BMC under Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification issued by the Centre. “We declare that the civic body cannot proceed with the works without obtaining an environmental clearance under EIA notification. Further, permission under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 should also be obtained,” the high court had said.
“It is obvious that a serious lacuna has occurred in the decision-making process. We hold that there is lack of proper scientific study and this has been overlooked by Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), the EIA and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF),” it said.