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India - Supreme Court Must Reconsider Its Stand on Mumbai’s Coastal Road Project Due to Climate Change and Rising Sea Levels

Mumbai’s magnanimous Coastal Road Project has faced stiff opposition for violating indigenous rights to livelihood and usurping environmental laws.

The Coastal Road Project planned and implemented by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai [MCGM]- is a road being constructed along the western coast of the island city.  This project is part of a larger plan to construct a ‘ring road’ all around Mumbai and is estimated to cost around Rs. 14,000 crore.

The project has faced sharp criticism from city planners and urban conservationists, for giving a complete go-by to sensible transport planning and placing a premium on private transport and, effectively, discouraging public transport.

A large part of the road is being built on the land reclaimed from the Arabian Sea in the intertidal area that hosts a vast diversity of marine flora and fauna and serves as a breeding ground for fishes. This intertidal area is also crucial to the livelihood of the Kolis, the indigenous coastal community of Mumbai.

JOINT TECHNICAL COMMITTEE REPORT: AN EFFORT IN VAIN

In 2011, the Government of Maharashtra appointed a Joint Technical Committee [JTC] to “examine the various options in the construction of a coastal road in Mumbai.” This committee opined that a road on stilts would be too expensive and that a coastal road on the reclaimed land would be the most ‘cost-effective’ option.
The JTC report bears no mention of the likely impact on coastal communities or serves other alternatives to solve traffic congestion.

Evidently, a decision had already been taken and an ‘expert’ committee was constituted to justify that decision.

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