Save the Coast - Develop Responsibly, Mumbai
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SAVE THE COAST - DEVELOP RESPONSIBLY
The MCGM (BMC) has approved a plan to spend around Rs 12,700 crores on a 9.8 km coastal road, from Princess Street Flyover to the Worli Sea-Link. At over Rs 1200 crores per km, it will be the most expensive road ever built in India!
The cost has more than doubled from the original estimates, perhaps due to the plan to reclaim 170 acres of land along the coast. At a time when Government of Maharashtra is urgently seeking Rs 8000 crores from the Centre for drought relief in the State, and when the BMC cannot spare a few hundred crores required to upgrade the BEST Bus fleet, there is no excuse for the waste of public funds on the pretext of improving traffic woes.
The Coastal Road in its current state creates more problems than it solves and the citizens of Mumbai have come together to question this colossal waste of public funds and ask for a complete cessation of work on the Mumbai Coastal Road Project till we are made aware of the true facts for the following reasons:
1. BMC has admitted that the final alignment for the tunnel and the road are not yet available to share with the public. No work should be carried out before a public hearing is held. This is a statutory requirement under the MRTP Act.
2. The Environmental Impact Assessment Report of this revised alignment, including climate change issues, rising sea levels, disaster management, storm water management, sewage management and measures of mitigation need to be shared with all stakeholders including the public. The MCGM has also agreed in public interactions that the current construction is generating pollution levels in excess of what is permissible in the N.O.Cs received by the corporation.
3. The city of Mumbai floods every year leading to loss of life and property. The proposed reclamation will be a dam that will block storm drainage and will close natural edge drainage, creating even more dangerous flooding in the city. The Mithi River disaster is a case in point.
4. A fundamental flaw is the lack of a Traffic Disbursal System to connect to the proposed Coastal Road. Without the proper disbursal roads, there will be traffic jams getting on and off the coastal road creating huge congestion in the already high traffic areas on the congested stretches of Bhulabhai Desai Road, NepeanSea Road, Haji Ali junction. Residents will be struck in traffic for hours after spending Rs 12700 crores.
5. It is feared that proposed “green” spaces on the 170 acres of reclaimed land will be commercially developed or sold to private developers. This fear has worsened with the current amendment to the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), which empowers the local body (in our case, the BMC) to give all permissions. In a city where real estate is one of the most expensive in the world, and where the MCGM itself earns thousands of crores annually by way of Development Premiums and Fungible FSI, the financial pressure to succumb to the builder lobby will be extremely high.
6. There is no system in place to prevent unauthorized encroachment on the proposed reclaimed land, since these vast reclaimed lands cannot be barricaded. With the nine existing illegal dwellings in the area, the danger that the encroachment will increase is a very real one. The proposed open spaces will be converted into massive unauthorized illegal enchroachments.
7. The Koli fishing community depends on crustaceans and shellfish that breed in the rocky inter tidal areas. The proposed reclamation will deprive them of their livelihood.
8. As the Government of Maharashtra does not have funds for this project, the MCGM is dipping into their reserve funds for the initial expenditure of Rs.1500 crores. There is no indication of how this project will be funded thereafter. Should the project commence and funds dry up, the partially completed project would constitute an environmental risk of disastrous proportions to the coastline.
In view of the above, the Mumbai Coastal Road project is counter to the public interest and the citizens demand that work on the Coastal Road Project be stopped until we are given the opportunity to understand all aspects of the project including its intent, environmental issues, vehicular traffic, pedestrian movement, public transport, etc.
CITIZENS! THE COASTAL ROAD RECLAMATION PROJECT MUST BE INVESTIGATED
· The project has started without the final plans and the legally required public hearing.
· It poses a huge environmental risk for all futures generations.
· Flooding and disasters due to reclamation and closure of natural edge drainage.
· No thought has been given to traffic management, which is critical.
· It is a massive real-estate development project in disguise.
· Loss of livelihoods for Koli community.
· Fiscal waste and creation of debt trap. It diverts massive funds, which, instead, should be better spent on improving the city’s bus and rail transport.
· Feared that proposed green belt will be converted into illegal encroachment belt.
SAVE THE COAST - DEVELOP RESPONSIBLY COMMITTEE
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