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The Respondent Authorities are directed to permit Petitioners to execute the proposed construction of 220 KV Kalwa Salesette Transmission Line in mangrove area: High Court Of Bombay

The Respondent Authorities are directed to permit Petitioners to execute the proposed construction of 220 KV Kalwa Salesette Transmission Line in mangrove area subject to the condition that the responsible officer of Petitioners files an undertaking before this Court that Petitioners shall undertake the compensatory plantation of 5000 mangrove saplings as suggested by BNHS was upheld by the High Court Of Bombay through the learned bench led by A.A. SAYED AND ABHAY AHUJA, JJ. in the case of THE TATA POWER COMPANY LIMITED AND ANR Vs UNION OF INDIA AND 5 ORS (WRIT PETITION NO. 741 OF 2014) on 2ND MARCH 2022.

Brief facts of the case are that by this Petition, filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, Petitioners are seeking a direction of this Court to the Respondent Authorities to allow Petitioners to implement the project for 220 KV transmission line between Kalwa and Salsette pursuant to the permissions granted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (for short “EPA, 1986”), Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.

Petitioner No.1 is a Company supplying electricity to the consumers in the island city of Mumbai. To implement the scheme approved by the State Transmission Utility (“STU”) and the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (“MERC”), Petitioners propose to construct of 220 KV transmission line of about 5 kilometers from Kalwa to Salsette (the “Project”) to augment the existing 110 KV transmission line corridor, which will be passing through the existing Right of Way (“ROW”) of 22 meters width over an area consisting of mangroves and also falling within 50 meters mangrove buffer zone.

Dr. Milind Sathe, learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioners submitted that in this regard, Petitioner No.1 has obtained the Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) report from the Bombay Natural History Society (“BNHS”) regarding the possible impact of the Project on the mangroves in the existing ROW. The said Report has highlighted the following :- i) Total number of transmission towers are 29 out of which 14 transmission towers are falling in Coastal Regulatory Zone (“CRZ”). (ii) About 477 number of mangroves will be displaced due to the proposed project. (iii) BNHS has suggested compensatory plantation about 5000 mangroves saplings. the current power generation in Mumbai is 1877 MW, whereas, the power demand is 3800 MW. The gap of about 2000 MW is bridged by procuring power from outside Mumbai through transmission lines connected with State Grid. Due to upcoming infrastructure projects, the power demand is expected to increase, which can lead to shortage of power. Many of the generating plants located in Mumbai are more than 25 years old and are ageing fast. Therefore, the need to augment the existing 110 KV transmission line connecting Kalwa Receiving Station to various generating stations is a project in public interest.

Mr. Adwait Sethna, Learned Counsel for the Respondent MoEFCC takes us to the conditions in the in-principle approval and submits that it is only after the receipt of report on the compliance of conditions and undertakings duly authenticated by the competent authority in the State Government that formal approval will be considered under the FCA, 1980. He submits that this Court may therefore consider directing the Respondent Authorities to postpone the commencement of work by Petitioners until the said formal approval, as stated in the in principle approval, is obtained.

The Court observed that “We accordingly direct the Respondent Authorities to permit Petitioners to execute the proposed construction of 220 KV Kalwa Salesette Transmission Line (Upgradation of old 110 KV Transmission Line in Mumbai) in mangrove area and its buffer zone in view of the public importance of the project, subject to Petitioners complying with the conditions imposed in the clearances/permissions granted by the Respondent Authorities subject to the condition that the responsible officer of Petitioners files an undertaking before this Court that Petitioners shall undertake the compensatory plantation of 5000 mangrove saplings as suggested by BNHS.”

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Written by- Riya Singh, Legal Intern, Prime Legal

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