Bombay High Court permits Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay to execute project for providing adequate water supply to citizens around Gorai Village

Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court: In a petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the Petitioner (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) is seeking a writ in mandamus directing the Respondent authorities to permit the Petitioner to execute a project of the proposed suction tank for providing adequate water supply to citizens around Gorai Village, a division bench of R D Dhanuka and M M Sathaye, JJ., granted the prayer and held that the said project is for the public good and is in the public interest.

It is the case of the petitioner that it is a statutory body established under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 tasked with various duties including providing potable water to citizens residing within its jurisdiction. As a part of the endeavour to provide potable water, the Petitioner has envisaged developing a project site for a suction tank of about 40 sq mtrs near the Fish Market, Gorai Village which is land owned by the Government of Maharashtra, and the said project site is partly affected by 50-meter mangrove buffer zone area.

It was submitted that Village Gorai is a tourist destination and recently the population has increased multifold times. However, there is no adequate water supply in the region. Due to the high elevation along Uttan Road, the area is facing an acute shortage of water supply and this difficulty in providing water is because the water is to be transported against gravity.

As per the procedure adopted by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) is that the said project is permissible under the CRZ notification subject to clearance by the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority, Maharashtra (SEIAA) based on the recommendation of the MCZMA. Thus, after due deliberation and detailed study, MCZMA was pleased to recommend the said project for grant of CRZ clearance subject to the Petitioner’s compliance with the terms and conditions, including obtaining permission of this Court. Even SEIAA noted that the construction of said project is permissible as per the CRZ notification.

The Court noted that when the issue of development for public good/interest is pitched against restrictions put in place for environmental protection, the Court must strike a balance. The Court was also satisfied to note that sufficient safeguards have been provided and no destruction of mangroves is involved as the said project is only partly affected by the buffer zone.

Thus, the Court held that the Petitioner’s proposed project is for providing absolutely necessity (water) for the citizens of the area in the vicinity of Village Gorai and as such, the said project certainly falls under the permitted exceptions in the scheme of the things provided for CRZ as well as protection of mangroves. However, the Court directed that in case of deviation from the proposed work of the said project, Petitioner will have to apply for fresh permission.

[Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay v Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine Bom 485, decided on 24-02-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Saket Mone a/w Ms. Shilpa Redkar and Mr. Subit Chakrabarti, for the Petitioner;

Mr. Rui Rodrigues a/w Mr. N.R. Prajapati, for Respondent 1;

Ms. Jaya Bagwe, For the Respondent 2/MCZMA;

Mr. Amit Shastri, AGP, State for the Respondent 3 to 5;

Ms. Sheetal Shah i/by M/s. Mehta and Girdharlal for Respondent 6.

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