When I read the judgement of the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court staying the ongoing construction work of the Bombay Coastal Road Project, what came to my mind were the words of Albert Einstein, “two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe”. Fourteen years ago, more than 1000 people died in the Bombay floods. The majority of them died locked inside their flooded cars for hours on the Western Express Highway, the only road connecting the Northwestern part of Bombay island to the city. Had the coastal road been in existence then, all those lives could have been saved. Today, I couldn’t board the 01.15 pm AirAsia flight from Mumbai to Cochin, because it took more than one and a half hours from Colaba to the international terminal.
The Chief Justice did not allow those who sought to implead themselves in the PIL, to argue in support of the coastal road and, in particular, to argue that the issue being one of policy is not justiciable at all and if it is justiciable the court is under an obligation to issue notice to the public at large and hear them. The Writ Petition by Mumbaikars, seeking a declaration that the coastal road project if allowed to be stalled on the plea of the so called PIL petitioners, would amount to denial of the fundamental rights of millions of Mumbaikars, was even refused to be listed despite repeated requests by a large number of Mumbaikars appearing as parties in person or through their lawyers.
I will be challenging the judgement of the Bombay High Court in the Supreme Court by way of a Writ Petition, so too, by an SLP.
I call upon every right thinking, public spirited Mumbaikar to join me/ SMC for enforcement of our fundamental right for world class road which the Mumbai Coastal Road once built would constitute to be.
Mathews J Nedumpara
03 August 2019
APPEAL TO MUMBAIKAR
The Coastal Road is an ambitious project of the Maharashtra government to serve the common man who voted it to power.The decision therefore is of the Mumbaikars, for, the government represents them, the ultimate masters in a democracy. It is our decision, for our benefit. Roads of a nation bring to it enormous economic progress. Only those who have no love to ones own nation except selfishness can opose such projects as Coastal Road Project.
A handful of social charlatans, pretentious “environmentalists” under the garb of “Public Interest” filed Petitions challenging the Coastal Road project, and the High Court was pleased to stay the project, jeopardising the dream of, WE Mumbaikars. The Supreme Court, however, was wise enough to vacate the stay and direct the High Court to hear the so called PILs expeditiously. Accordingly, the High Court heard the PIL petitioners for days. The AG and other lawyers representing the Government did not raise the maintainability of the PIL, that PIL is for the benefit of the poor who on account of their poverty and illiteracy cannot approach a court and not to meddle with matters of policy which is not justiciable;that if the so called PIL is maintainable, there is a duty on the part of the court to hear those who support the project, the millions of Mumbaikars as well. The government lawyers obviously will not raise such a plea effectively for if PILs were only to serve what it was meant to be, mainly, to enable the poor and the illiterate to access justice, their own vested interest will be in jeopardy. Anguished by the failure on the part of the AG, Adv Kambata and others representing the Government and BMC to raise even the very plea of non-maintainability of the PILs and to seek it’s summary dismissal; or if it is maintainable to cause notice to the public at large who have an equal right to be heard as much as the PIL petitioners, a team of lawyers and lay people led by Sri Nedumpara, a crusader against environmental pollution, sought to be heard by filing an application for intervention pointing out that the environmental damage alleged is a wholly unfounded ploy to deny a smooth access to the city to the common public. It was pointed out that the real threat to the coastal marine life is the discharge of millions of tons of untreated toxic water and setting up of world class sewage treatment plants ought to be an integral part of the project, that mangroves be replanted not merely three times of the small extent which is destroyed for the cause of the road, but 10 times. If fishermen’s livelihood is affected then they should be more than compensated, that the PIL petitioners cannot assert to be the exclusive custodians of the cause of the environment, that every Mumbaikar is truly concerned of the environment.
But the Hon’ble Sri Narendra Jog, Chief Justice of Bombay disallowed any intervention in support of the Coastal Road Project. Undaunted by refusal of the CJ to allow to intervene, millions who support the project under the banner of “Save Mumbai Coastal Road Project” filed writ petitions for a declaration that the project is legal and constitutional, that the challenge of the same is not maintainable and in the event that the challenge is held to be maintainable, then, the foremost question to be decided is: who all have a right to be heard? In other words, whether the millions of Mumbaikars who support the project can be denied the right to be heard? The writ petition was mentioned before the CJ to be heard along with the PIL twice. But the Hon’ble CJ declined the said plea and adjourned the case for pronouncement of orders. This left the Mumbaikars with no other option than to file an application for recall of the said order and to afford the Mumbaikars a hearing and mention the same in the open court. Accordingly, on 9th, Advocates Rohini Amin, C. J. Joveson, RR Nair, and Amritpal Singh Khalsa, as well as petitioners like Shri Sunil Gupta, Ramanathan and others mentioned before the Chief Justice for them to be heard before orders are pronounced. However, the Hon’ble CJ was pleased to decline their plea.
This greatly disheartened one of the advocates Mr. Amrit Pal Singh Khalsa, who steadfastly sought to know from the Honble Chief Justice as to why they are being denied a hearing. But his questions went unanswered. _Nikil desperandum_, never give up hope is an age old maxim. We will be mentioning once again today at 11am if possible, if not, at 3pm before the CJ. Sri Subhash Jha will lead us in mentioning today.
President, Save Coastal Road Campaign.
11 July 2019, Mumbai