G.S. Kulkarni, J.1. Rule, returnable forthwith. The respondents waive service. By consent of the parties, heard finally.2. The petitioner before us is the City & Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd. (CIDCO) praying for the following reliefs in the interest of public project being undertaken by it:-“B. To grant permission to the Petitioner – CIDCO to cut and/or remove the mangroves in the area admeasuring 0.6266 Hectors and to carry out construction of 11M wide Bye-pass bridge with approaches from Hotel Anandi to Uran City in Dronagiri, Navi Mumbai, as described in detail in Schedule-A to the Petition, on such terms and conditions as this Hon’ble Court may deem it appropriate.”3. A Co-ordinate Bench of this Court in its decision in the case of Bombay Environmental Action Group and another Vs. The State of Maharashtra & Others (Public Interest Litigation No.87 of 2006 decided on 17.09.2018) has issued several directions in regard to the preservation of mangroves in the entire State of Maharashtra. It has been directed that there shall be a total freeze on the destruction and cutting of mangroves unless it is necessary for the public good or public interest. It is in the light of such directions, the CIDCO has filed the present petition.4. It is the petitioner’s case that it is the “New Town Development Authority”, for Navi Mumbai appointed by the State Government in exercise of the powers under sub-section 3A of Section 113 of the Maharashtra Regional & Town Planning Act, 1956 (for short, the “MRTP Act”). The petitioner is accordingly concerned with the planned development and disposal of the lands at Navi Mumbai. The petitioner is undertaking construction of a 11 mtr. wide bye-pass bridge with approaches from Hotel Anandi to Uran City in Dronagiri, Navi Mumbai. It is stated that the proposed project is to be constructed in an area admeasuring 1.0287 hectre, in so doing, there is an area affected by mangroves/forest land, only to the extent of 0.6266 hectre, the remaining area being the non-forest land, for which no permission was required. The petitioner being conscious of the preservation of the environment explored all possibilities to save the existing mangroves on this patch of land, and only after concluding finally that there is no other alternative, it was decided to be taken such route for the implementation of the project in hand. The petitioner accordingly applied for permissions to remove the mangroves on the small area of 0.6266 hectres being affected by the project. The petitioner contends that the project in hand is part of the ongoing important project concerning the traffic congestion in Mumbai and the already developed area of Navi Mumbai. To effectively implement this project, it was proposed to construct 11 mtr. wide bye-pass bridge at Uran for easing of traffic passing through the congested Uran city, as due to the nonavailability of such road, there were continuous road blocks, traffic jams, accidents and other issues faced by the locals. It was found that the construction of the said bye-pass bridge will also help in reducing the pollution level in the local area. It was decided by the State Government that the CIDCO should be directed to undertake construction of the said project at the earliest. The cost of the said project is stated to be around Rs.42.57 Crores. The petitioner has proposed to set up an eco-friendly project by investing in proper budget and architectural intelligence and state that the said work would also compete with international standards.5. To undertake the project, the petitioner presented a proposal before the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (for short, “MCZMA”) setting out all the details qua the project. The MCZMA, after examining the petitioner’s proposal, recommended the proposal from the CRZ point of view to the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (for short, “SEIAA) vide Minutes of the Meeting held on 2 and 3 November 2016. Clause 2 of the such minutes recorded that this would be subject to the petitioner obtaining an approval from the High Court. This was in view of the then interim order prevailing as passed by the co-ordinate Bench of this Court in the case of Bombay Environmental Action Group and another Vs. The State of Maharashtra & Others (supra) freezing the mangroves.6. The SEIAA in its 113th meeting held on 5 January 2018 considered the proposal for grant of an “Environment Clearance” for the proposed construction of the petitioner and granted a CRZ clearance for the project by its letter dated 5 January 2018, subject to compliance of certain conditions, one of the conditions again being to obtain orders of this Court. The petitioner also applied to the Ministry of Environment and Forest – Government of India (MOEF) seeking its permission for implementing the said project, which was also granted to the petitioner on 3 February 2020. The petitioner undertakes to strictly and rigorously comply with all the conditions as imposed by the authorities in various permissions obtained by it and are prepared to place on record such an undertaking.7. Learned Advocate General appearing for the petitioner has taken us through the various permissions as granted by the concerned authorities which would permit the petitioner to remove the mangroves with a condition of undertaking re-plantation. It is submitted that the project is of vital importance and immense public interest and if orders are not passed by this Court as prayed for, public interest would be severely prejudiced. The learned Advocate General also brought to our notice similar orders which are passed by the co-ordinate Benches of this court in case of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust Vs. Union of India (Writ Petition/LD/VC No.(L) No.228 of 2020 decided on 30.07.2020), Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority Vs. Union of India & Ors. (Writ Petition No.1646 of 2019 decided on 19.12.2019), M.M.R.D.A. Vs. Union of India & Ors. (WP-LD-VC No.86 of 2020) etc. which we do not intend to discuss. suffice it to observe that the Court considering all such applications and that public projects were involved, granted permission to remove mangrove to the extent as prayed for in such applications.8. Ms.Sharmila Deshmukh, learned Counsel appearing for respondent No.3 would also not dispute that the project being undertaken by the petitioner is a public project and it is considering such public necessity various authorities have also granted permission to remove the mangroves, subject to the petitioner complying the conditions, subject matter of the respective permissions. Mr.Rodrigues, learned Counsel for the Union of India would also not dispute the contentions as urged on behalf of the petitioner. He would however submit that it would be obligatory for the petitioner to place on record an undertaking of a responsible officer to the effect that the petitioner will strictly comply with the conditions imposed by the respondent authorities for carrying out the proposed work.9. Having heard learned Counsel for the parties and having perused the record, we are of the opinion that an exception is required to be made in favour of the petitioner to remove the mangroves as prayed for and subject matter of the conditions as granted by the respondent authorities as the work in question is for public good and in public interest as observed in paragraph 83(viii) of the order passed by the Division Bench of this Court in the case of Bombay Environmental Action Group and another Vs. The State of Maharashtra & Others (supra). There is a willingness on the part of the petitioner to place on record an undertaking of rigorous compliance of the conditions as imposed in the permissions granted by the respondent authorities. A public project can not be stalled by not granting the reliefs as prayed for. In the circumstances, we allow the petition in terms of prayer clause (B) which reads thus:-“B. To grant permission to the Petitioner – CIDCO to cut and/or remove the mangroves in the area admeasuring 0.6266 Hectors and to carry out con
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struction of 11M wide Bye-pass bridge with approaches from Hotel Anandi to Uran City in Dronagiri, Navi Mumbai, as described in detail in Schedule-A to the Petition, on such terms and conditions as this Hon’ble Court may deem it appropriate.”10. The relief granted above shall however be subject to the condition of the petitioner placing on record of this petition an undertaking of a responsible officer to the effect that the petitioner will strictly comply with the conditions imposed in the permissions granted by the SEIAA and the Ministry of Environment and Forest for carrying out the proposed project. Such undertaking be filed within one week from today.11. Rule is made absolute in the above terms.12. This order will be digitally signed by the Private Secretary/ Personal Assistant of this Court. All concerned will act on production by fax or e-mail of a digitally signed copy of this order.