The construction of the proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj memorial off the Mumbai coast will remain stayed for the time being, as the Supreme Court, on February 21, 2019, turned down the Maharashtra government’s plea seeking an early hearing of an appeal challenging the project. The apex court had earlier, orally, asked the Maharashtra government authorities not to proceed with the construction activities and issued notice to the state government and others, on an appeal of an NGO challenging the Bombay High Court order refusing to stay the construction.
A bench headed by chief justice Ranjan Gogoi was told by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Maharashtra government, that the NGO’s plea be heard urgently, in view of the fact that the construction activities were halted. “We cannot let Maharashtra jump the queue,” the bench, also comprising justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna, said.
Earlier, the apex court had sought the responses of the centre and the Maharashtra government on the appeal of the NGO, Conservation Action Trust, challenging the Bombay High Court order refusing to restrain the authorities from taking steps regarding the proposed memorial project in the Arabian Sea. The NGO had moved the high court, challenging the February 23, 2015 order of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) granting the environmental and coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance to the Rs 3,600-crore project.
It had sought interim relief, saying stay should be granted on the order and the authorities should be restrained from taking further steps with regard to the project. However, rejecting the petitioner’s request for interim relief, the high court had noted in its order that the state had said the memorial project did not involve rehabilitation and resettlement of people and the site was located away from human habitation. “It also cannot be overlooked that the project is considered by the state government to be of national importance,” the high court had noted in its order.
Shivaji memorial: Bombay HC seeks centre, MCZMA’s replies, on alleged unlawful clearances
The Bombay HC has asked the centre and the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority to file their responses, on the allegations that several clearances for the proposed Shivaji memorial off the Arabian Sea were given unlawfully
August 29, 2018: A Bombay High Court bench of justices Shantanu Kemkar and Sarang Kotwal, on August 28, 2018, directed the authorities to address, in their respective affidavits, all the legal issues raised in a bunch of public interest litigations (PILs) filed in the court, challenging the construction of the Shivaji memorial off the Arabian Sea.
The directions came, after senior advocate Aspi Chinoy, representing some of the petitioners, informed the court that the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), the centre and the state government had granted several approvals to the project, in violation of the coastal zone norms.
Chinoy told the bench that the state and the MCZMA had granted approvals to the project, without conducting a public hearing. Citizens can raise objections and give suggestions on a public project of the aforementioned nature at a public hearing and it is mandatory, as per environmental and coastal zone norms, Chinoy said.
As per the plea, the Maharashtra government issued a notification in February 2015, stating that there was no requirement for a public hearing for the Shivaji Memorial project.
“However, the MCZMA and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had already granted several necessary approvals for the project, between November 2014 and January 2015, without the public hearing,” Chinoy said. “This means that the authorities had been granting approvals, in the anticipation that the norm on public hearings would be amended. This can’t be considered lawful,” he argued.
The court was also informed that earlier this year, another bench of the high court had directed both, the centre and the MCZMA, to file their replies but they had failed to do so in over six months now. The bench, therefore, directed the two to file their replies within four weeks. In a previous hearing, the state government had submitted that the public hearing had been dispensed with, since the project was located away from human habitation and therefore, did not involve any rehabilitation.
As part of the proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial project, a statue of the warrior king will be constructed in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of Mumbai. According to the state government, the statue will be the tallest in the world. The Maharashtra government has pegged the overall project cost at Rs 3,600 crores.