The National Green Tribunal has issued a notice to the Maharashtra government and the Centre over the proposed memorial to Chhatrapati Shivaji on the Arabian Sea, seeking clarifications on the environmental and coastal regulation zone clearances for the project.
The notice issued by the Pune bench of the NGT came in an environmental interest litigation (EIL) filed by Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kriti Samiti (AMMKS) President Damodar Tandel and marine conservationist Pradip Patade through lawyer Asim Sarode.
The notice issued by Justice Jawad Rahim and Expert Member Ajay Deshpande of the NGT Pune bench to the Maharashtra government, the Centre, various other government and semi-government bodies is returnable on September 30.
“There are multiple issues involving this huge project. Chhatrapati Shivaji himself was against misuse of public funds and one of his royal edicts was for protection of environment,” Tandel told media persons on Thursday.
Advocate Sarode explained that one of the major issues was not conducting a public hearing on the proposed grand memorial which points at manipulations in acquiring the environment and CRZ clearances of February 2015, besides securing no-objection certificates from various government or government-supported agencies.
“The thoughts and teachings of Chhatrapati Shivaji are of public interest and national importance. There cannot be any public interest served in the ‘statue memorial’ symbolic of the state government’s ‘monumental’ work,” Sarode pointed out.
The lawyer-activist said that the waiver from public hearing process on the project is ab initio illegal and demanded that the environment and CRZ clearances granted should be kept in abeyance.
“When there is something which can impact the environment, in all such cases public hearing is a part of the process which implies precautionary measures,” he declared.
According to present plans, the grand memorial to the founder of the Maratha Empire, Chhatrapati Shivaji, including a 190-metre tall statue, will come up on a 16-hectare islet in the Arabian Sea, around 3.5 km in the sea off Marine Drive in south Mumbai. It is estimated to cost around Rs 1,400 crore.
After the project is executed, the islet will be exposed even during the high tides, block the flow of the sea waters, change the waves and currents patterns and the shorelines, the petitioners contended.
This could have direct impact on the natural marine flora and fauna and aquatic life, fish and other creatures in the area and affect the livelihood of the fisherfolk.
The project would result in huge pollution in the area as around 10,000 people will visit it daily and provisions of food courts and toilets will be made for them, besides the pollutants from the boats which will transport visitors from Nariman Point and Gateway Of India to the memorial.
An underwater pipeline to supply around 11 mld drinking water to the memorial site would be required, adding to the woes of Mumbaikars already battling water shortages.
With inputs from IANS