The Bombay High Court, which is hearing writ petitions filed against the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) clearance given to the proposed Rs 3,600-crore Shivaji Memorial off Arabian Sea, on Thursday issued notices to the Union government, state government and the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority.
A bench of Justices AS Oka and PN Deshmukh directed the authorities to file within a month, an affidavit clarifying whether due process was followed and a public hearing was held before granting environmental clearances to the project.
The court was hearing two petitions, one filed by an NGO, and another by some citizens and some representatives of the various fishermen communities.
The pleas have opposed the construction of the said statue on apprehensions of serious ecological damage. The petitioners have also alleged that while it is mandatory for the state authorities to invite suggestions and objections from the public, and to hold a public hearing so that all stakeholders can share their opinion, in the present case, no such hearing was conducted.
The petitioners’ advocate Mihir Desai told HC that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) had granted environmental and CRZ clearance for the statue in January 2015, despite the fact that the state government had not conducted the mandatory public hearing as required by the MoEF’s and CRZ Authority’s own rules.
The state government, however, argued that vide an amendment made in February 2015 to the state CRZ notifications, it was exempt from conducting public hearings for the above project. The petitioners challenged the amendment and also pointed out that the project was granted clearance even before the said amendment was brought about by the government. HC has directed the state to respond to the charges in an affidavit.