CHENNAI: Has the Tamil Nadu government deliberately omitted ‘Hazard Line’ from Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP)? The answer seems to be ‘yes’. Going by the new draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018, issued by Union environment ministry, the hazard line has been demarcated by Survey of India and already been shared with all coastal States/Union Territories.
This stands in contrast to the State government’s claim all through that hazard line has not been finalised and provided by Survey of India yet. The same argument was presented just two days ago before the Madras High Court by Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority.
Ever since the State government published CZMP inviting public comments in February, there has been a hue and cry among fishermen and green activists who termed the plan ‘half-baked’, especially on the premise that it does not have hazard line. So who is lying — Centre or State? The Union environment ministry explicitly said in the new draft CRZ Notification that ‘hazard line’ has been demarcated by the Survey of India taking into account the extent of the flooding on the land area due to water level fluctuations, sea level rise and shoreline changes (erosion/accretion) occurring over a period of time.
The hazard line mapped by Survey of India has been shared with coastal States/UTs through Chennai-based National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM). Interestingly, NCSCM has prepared the CZMP for Tamil Nadu.Further, the ministry asked the coastal States to use the hazard line as a tool for disaster management plan for the coastal environment, including planning of adaptive and mitigation measures.
Hazard line is a composite line of the shoreline change (including sea level rise) due to climate change, tides and waves. Survey of India has mapped it at a cost of `125 cr. It forms a critical part of environment ministry’s responsibilities towards the planned management of the country’s coastal zone. This will include the collection and presentation of data, identification of flood lines over the last 40 years and prediction of erosions over the next 100 years.
Pooja Kumar of Coastal Resource Centre says the CZMP has to be prepared strictly according to the guidelines presented in Annexure 1 of CRZ Notification. It is required to clearly identify authorised construction within CRZ areas, present long-term housing plans for fisherfolk, identify the hazard line and spell out prospective plans for CRZ area.
The hazard line which is to be marked taking into account tides, waves, sea-level rise and shoreline changes is absent, opening up tens of thousands of acres of low-lying coastal wetlands for development as real estate. The point of the hazard line is to protect communities from seaborne hazards. Presenting a “plan” without a hazard line totally misses the point and puts communities in harm’s way.
Public hearings can’t be stopped: State to HC
Despite stiff opposition, public hearings have been called in 12 out of 13 coastal districts of Tamil Nadu. The government says the hearings can’t be stopped. In an affidavit filed before Madras High Court, it says any further delay in public hearing would result in huge loss to the public exchequer and tax payers’ money