Shivaji memorial in Mumbai: HC seeks Centre, state response to pleas challenging eco clearance
The project envisages a 210-meter tall statue of the king on a small rocky island located 3.5km off the Mumbai coast, with an estimated expenditure of Rs3,600 crore(FILE)
The Bombay high court on Thursday sought response of the central and state government to petitions challenging the grant of coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) and environmental clearance for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj memorial in the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast.
A division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice PN Deshmukh was hearing two petitions filed by Conservation Action Trust and Shweta Wagh, challenging the grant of environmental clearance to the memorial for the Maratha king.
The project envisages a 210-meter tall statue of the king on a small rocky island located 3.5km off the Mumbai coast, with an estimated expenditure of Rs3,600 crore. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone of the memorial in December 2016.
The bench has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to clarify in its affidavit if it had passed any order exempting the Maharashtra government from holding public hearings as regards the project, as provided under the recent amendment to the Coastal Regulatory Zone notification of 2011. The union ministry has been further directed to submit a copy of the order, if it had passed any.
The directive came after the counsel for Conservation Action Trust, advocate Gulnar Mistry, complained that no public hearings took place, although it was mandatory under the law. The petition filed by the NGO said that holding public hearing was necessary, especially when the project involves reclaiming or filling an area of about 32 hectares – equivalent to two Oval Maidans – in the sea.
The petition said the CRZ notification of 2011 permits memorials and allied facilities in CRZ-IV only in exceptional cases, but here under the guise of memorial, the Centre has allowed the state to construct 10 levels of exhibition halls, an amphitheatre, an oceanarium and other recreational facilities such as water sports.
The petitioner body highlighted the fact that in the second phase, the state government proposes to use an equal area for a convention centre and a marine aquarium and the project cost estimates have now gone up to Rs5,900 crore and could easily cross the Rs8,000-crore mark.
The petitioner body took strong exception to the changes made in the initial plans for the memorial. According to it, the height of the main structure is now proposed to be increased by 20 meters – from 190 meters to 210 meters. The original height of the pedestal has been proposed to be increased from 32.50 meters to 84 meters and its area from 16,237 square meters to 48,624 square meters.
Besides, an oceanarium having area admeasuring 10,431 square meters and a convention centre of 6,824 square meters are proposed to be built in the second phase.