RTI Response reveals TN Government is Hastening the Preparation of CZMPs – Is that the solution to protect environment and fisherfolk?

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Chennai – An RTI response received by the Coastal Resource Centre reveals that the Government of Tamil Nadu, after delaying the preparation of a statutory state Coastal Zone Management Plan, is now attempting to rush through a CZMP that activists fear will regularise CRZ violations and free up coastal wetlands for real estate. The response, which contained minutes of a high-level meeting chaired by Environment Secretary on 6 July, 2017, notes that the draft CZMP will be uploaded for public consultation by 15 August, 2017. The Directorate of Environment is required to work with National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Zone Management (NCSCM) to incorporate public comments by end September and conduct public consultations in all coastal districts by 31.10.2017.  The finalised CZMPs are to be processed within a month and sent by the state government to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change by 31.12.2017.

A new plan, mandated under the CRZ 2011 was to be completed by 2013 by the addition of Land Use Plans (LUP) of coastal communities, Uniform High Tide Line and Low Tide Line for India’s coast and mapping violations of the plans approved in 1996. Six years hence, all of this remains to be completed.

In April, 2017, the CRC had released a report that used three case studies to highlight how NCSCM’s flawed High Tide Line (HTL) demarcation had wrongly identified 900 acres of coastal wetland as land. The same report also highlighted how NCSCM’s HTL effectively regularised encroachments built inside the HTL of coastal waterbodies.

CRZ Notification 2011 requires all coastal states to identify and act against CRZ violations, and prepare CZMPs. In July 2011, the Directorate of Environment, which is entrusted with finalising the CZMP, had resolved to identify and publicly report violations, and take action against them. However, till date, not one violation has been identified. Violations identified and reported by citizens have been condoned or complaints ignored.

Between the flawed HTL and the failure to identify offenders encroaching inside water bodies, the entire exercise of drawing up a fresh CZMP will convert an environmental protection regulation into a bonanza for real estate and a disaster for coastal residents.

On 31st July 2017, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change extended the validity of the 1996 Government of India-approved state CZMP for the sixth time since the introduction of the CRZ Notification 2011. All states have to have approved CZMPs by July 2018. A copy of the Notification is below.

If the Tamil Nadu government is serious about protecting the environment and fisherfolk, it should first identify structures built in violation of the 1996 approved CZMP, redraw the HTL with careful ground-truthing and prepare a map that clearly identifies fisher’s land and ocean-use and areas reserved for long-term housing for fishers.

For more information, contact: Pooja Kumar – 9791122180; K. Saravanan – 9176331717; Nityanand Jayaraman — 9444082401 

 

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‘Illegal map used to clear port plan in Ennore creek’

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority (TNSCZMA) has used a fraudulent CRZ map to facilitate industrial activity in Ennore creek, allege activists.
“Using this map, the TNSCZMA has diverted around 1,000 acres in the creek to facilitate a proposal by Kamarajar Port Ltd,” said Pooja Kumar from Coastal Resource Centre, referring to RTI responses received from the Department of Environment, Tamil Nadu, and the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, New Delhi on June 22.

On the allegation of using the wrong map, the member secretary, TNSCZMA, H Malleshappa said through the RTI response that he had furnished a map that was ‘revised and approved by Government of India in 1997.’Malleshappa’s response referred to a letter in 1997, in which the Government of India had permitted the TN government to revise the boundaries of Ennore creek, based on a survey by the Naval Hydrographer. He was, however, unavailable for comments despite repeated calls.

A subsequent RTI response from the Department of Environment dated July 20, however, exposed that the Department did not approach the Chief Hydrographer to demarcate the backwater areas. “In 1997, the Department of Environment did not approach the Chief Hydrographer to demarcate the backwater areas,” the response said. Further it revealed that subsequent to the letter dated 30.9.1997, no modification has been done.

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Ennore creek erased from govt map, allege activists

CHENNAI: Two maps of the city given to environment activists based on RTI applications appear contradictory. The first, approved by the Centre in 1996, showed the presence of Ennore creek, spread over 6,569 acres, while the second does not have the creek at all.

Coastal Resource Centre founder Nityanand Jayaraman said it was the surprising that the creek, shown as a water body protected as a ‘no development zone’ under CRZ1 in the map presented after an RTI application filed in 2009, was completely missing in the map given after an application filed this year following a controversy over diversion of the Ennore wetlands.

Releasing both maps at a meeting here on Friday, the Coastal Action Network, Coastal Resource Centre, Save Ennore Creek Campaign and Ennore fisherfolk demanded an independent probe into the functioning of the State Coastal Zone Management Authority. The creek, they said, protected Thiruvottiyur, RK Nagar, Madhavaram and Ponneri areas from flooding.

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Ennore Creek falls off map, activists cry foul

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Contradictory claims:Two RTI queries have yielded different responses on the existence of the Ennore Creek.R_Ragu | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

Say it would pave the way for takeover by realtors

Does the Ennore Creek exist or not? As per two RTI replies given by the Department of Environment, it exists and it doesn’t exist.

According to Jesu Rathinam of the Coastal Action Network, in the first RTI reply, a map provided by the Department of Environment, declaring it as approved by the Government of India, showed 6,469 acres of the Creek to be a tidal waterbody protected as a No Development Zone under CRZ-I regulations.

In response to another RTI this year, another official map shows that the entire Ennore Creek has disappeared.

The Coastal Action Network (CAN), the Coastal Resource Centre, the Save Ennore Creek Campaign and Ennore fisherfolk groups want an independent investigation into the functioning of the State Coastal Zone Management Authority and the Environment and Forests Department.

Environment activist Nityanand Jayaraman said as per the map given that now, more than 6,000 acres of the creek will vanish.

 

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Ennore Creek is ‘Petrochemical Park’ in new CRZ map

CHENNAI: The new Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) map of Tiruvallur district has marked the 6,400-acre Ennore Creek as “Petrochemical Industrial Park”. Activists fear this is a backdoor attempt to industrialise the creek, an ecologically sensitive area where the Kosasthalaiyar River meets the sea.

The new map was accessed through the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Despite it being the most important document that to would regulate the development along the coastal area, there was no mention of when the map was prepared and by whom.
The new map is in sharp contrast to the 1996 map, which shows the 6,469 acres of Ennore Creek to be a tidal water body and protected as No Development Zone under CRZ-1.

Sharing the documents at the press meet on Friday, members of Coastal Action Network (CAN), Coastal Resource Centre, Save Ennore Creek Campaign and All Ennore Fishing Villages (AEFV) coalition demanded an independent probe into the working of the State Coastal Zone Management Authority and the Department of Environment.

Jesu Rathinam of CAN said she got the copy of the 1996 map in 2009 after struggling for three years. “Also, the map obtained by us covers a stretch of 16 km, while the latest map covers only 13 km and makes it seem as if there is no Creek in the map area,” she said.

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