Shiv Sena member of parliament (MP) Gajanan Kirtikar and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of legislative assembly (MLA) Bharati Lavekar have sought a response from authorities on the ongoing construction work at Versova beach, which is allegedly in violation of permissions given by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), reported the HT Times.
The letter was written to the authorities also states that Aaditya Thackeray, state environment minister and guardian minister for Mumbai suburbs, has ordered a “temporary stay” on the work. Already a creation of a 1.2km long wall which is eight meters higher than the original high-tide line, with tetrapods dumped on its seaward side, has been done.
The construction is going on in the CRZ-I area of the beach, where no reclamation work is allowed. This has also been discussed in many meetings with MCZMA when considering projects to “beautify” Versova. In 2017, the Public Works Department (PWD) was allowed to build an anti-erosion infrastructure without reclaiming any portion of the beach.
But the order was not followed through, and a large area of the Versova beach has been reclaimed. Soil has been filled into an eight-meter space between the original high-tide line and the new anti-erosion wall. PWD officials even told the HT newspaper that plans to develop this area into a promenade similar to the Carter Road or Marine Lines.
On the seaward side, tetrapods have been released, which the environmentalists think to be an attempt to hide the increased rate of erosion caused by the construction of the Coastal Road further south.
Gajanan Kirtikar, the Shiv Sena MLA, wrote to the PWD as it is responsible for the execution of the construction work along with the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) and the MCZMA.
They have been instructed to send spokespersons for a site visit on August 25. He added in his letter that he has been making efforts since 2017 to build an anti-erosion wall along Versova beach as tidal waters were rushing into the compounds of those living in the nearby areas.
“I am of the view that action needs to be taken in such a manner that the protective wall can be constructed and the citizens can also use the Chowpatty,” Kirtikar wrote.
Permissions were granted from the Centre by way of a letter on May 15, 2015. In another letter to Aaditya Thackeray on August 16, Bharati Lavekar informed that she had first talked about this concern as early as 2015 and have discussed the issue with then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister Nitin Gadkari.
And as of now, she said, “I request a meeting as soon as possible to find out the facts regarding the work. All work permits and objections should be checked.”