SC asks Maharashtra coastal body to finalise maps before April 30 ...

    SC asks Maharashtra coastal body to finalise maps before April 30

    The Supreme Courthas vacated the Bombay High Court’s stay on National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) directive to Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) to not clear new projects until the city’s coastline maps are finalised. The apex court has now ordered MCZMA to finalise the maps before April 30, 2018.
    Maharashtra coastal body

    After a 2015 petition filed by Mumbai-based NGO Vanshakti, NGT, in its November 2017 order, had prohibited MCZMA from holding meetings and clearing proposals of buildings or infrastructure projects until the state’s coastline maps were finalised. MCZMA challenged the order in Bombay High Court to procure a stay. However, Vanshakti challenged the High Court’s stay in the apex court, where the division bench comprising Justice A K Goel and Justice Rohinton Nariman set aside the HC order.

    Vanshakti in its petition had claimed that the state’s coastline was being obliterated because the Union Ministry of Environment was repeatedly extending the deadline for Maharashtra government to finalise the coastal zone management plans (CZMP) maps without checking the number of proposals being cleared and its impact on coastal areas.

    Last year, MCZMA published draft coastline maps of all seven coastal districts and invited suggestions and objections from people. Maharashtra has seven coastal districts — Mumbai city, Mumbai suburb, Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg. According to environmentalists, even the draft maps published for Mumbai had glaring errors; several CRZ-III areas were shown as CRZ-II areas, thus opening them up for development.

    While CRZ-I covers ecologically sensitive areas within 100 metres of the high-tide line where no development is allowed, CRZ-III covers areas within 500 metres of the high-tide line and are considered no-development zones. CRZ-II covers areas within 500 metres of the high-tide line but are already developed; for instance, Marine Drive or Carter Road in Bandra.

    D Stalin, project director of Vanshakti, said, “We have won a small battle but larger war continues. Vanshakti is committed to protecting costal zones and preserving the integrity of our coastline by keeping them free from construction.”

    State environment secretary Satish Gavai, who is also ex-officio secretary of MCZMA, said, “The Supreme Court order doesn’t change anything, as we haven’t held the meeting of MCZMA since November, after NGT’s order came in.” All district coastal maps are in the process of being finalised. Mumbai’s will be finalised and sent to the central government for final approval next week. Thereafter, one district’s map will be sent every week.

    Info- realty.economictimes