The Bombay High Court on Thursday shelved the state government’s ambitious proposal to build a golf course and a residential colony near the upcoming Navi Mumbai airport calling it a destruction of water bodies/wetlands “which will infringe the fundamental rights of citizens.”
A division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Riyaz Chagla was hearing a bunch of PILs against an October 2016 notification of the state’s Urban Development Department.
Interestingly, one of the reasons cited by the state in favour of its plan was that since the area was frequented by migratory birds and was located within 4 km of the proposed international airport, it could pose a danger to aircraft by exposing them to bird hits.
“There is no material placed on record ito show that for preventing possible bird hits, making of the golf course is the only solution,” the bench observed..
It then added that the water bodies maintain ecological balance and therefore, “public trust doctrine” imposed an obligation on the state government and related agencies to protect them.
The PILs also sought protection for two city lakes – the DPS lake in Sector 52, Nerul and the other one at Palm Beach Road, Navi Mumbai – both of whom were in danger due to garbage and construction debris dumping.
The court directed that all the water bodies shown in the National Wetlands Inventory and Assessment prepared by Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad must be protected.
On the issue of the golf course and a residential colony, the court also noted that although the proposal was being discussed by the planning authority – City and Industrial Development Corporation – since 2002, the authorities had failed to show that the impact on the ecosystem and environment was assessed or at least “such assessment was made available to the Planning Authority or the state government” while clearing the proposal.