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