The Bombay High Court said the government’s ‘Make In India’ function at Girgaon Chowpatty beach in south Mumbai in 2016, which had to be abandoned after a huge fire gutted the stage, caused “considerable destruction and damage” to the beach.
It also asked the Maharashtra government to repair and restore the damaged portions of the beach within two months.
A division bench of Justices A S Oka and P N Deshmukh passed the ruling on a public interest litigation (PIL) raising concerns of soil erosion caused at the beach due to erection of structures, and functions and rallies held there.
“Beaches are an essential part of the environment. If beaches are polluted then it will violate the fundamental rights of the citizen guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, which says a person has the right to live in a pollution-free environment,” the bench said.
The ‘Make in India’ function held in February 2016 at the beach had to be abandoned after a huge fire gutted the stage, the bench noted.
“It caused considerable destruction and damage to a portion of the beach,” the judges said, adding the Girgaon Chowpatty beach is a major tourist attraction in Mumbai and hence, it is the duty of each and every citizen to protect it.
“The beach cannot be damaged by holding functions and rallies,” the court said.
There are only a few open spaces left in the city where common people can breathe fresh air, it observed, adding, “The (Girgaon Chowpatty) beach also has national importance as it is said that Bal Gangadhar Tilak was cremated there. He made huge sacrifices for the cause of freedom. His statue stands tall on the beach which inspires younger generation.”
Therefore, it is all the more necessary that the sanctity of the beach is maintained by keeping it clean and free from pollution, the bench said.
“The state government and the city collector shall ensure that the work of repair and restoration of north end of the beach (where ‘Make in India’ function was held) is carried out and completed within two months,” it said.
The court noted that only three functions – Ganesh immersion, Ramleela and Krishna Leela – which are covered under guidelines set up by a monitoring committee, can be held at the beach and that too in the designated 300×150 sqft area.
The court also directed the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority to initiate action against any illegal construction on CRZ (coastal regulation zone) area of the beach.
The bench has posted the petition for further hearing on August 1.