Union ministry of environment and forests gives thumbs up to build bridge on one of the Andaman islands
The ministry issued a notification earlier this month amending the Islands Protection Zone Notification, 2011, permitting construction of two-lane bridge over Middle Strait to sin Andaman.
NEW DELHI: In a move that could pose threat to protected islands of Andaman and Nicobar and the Lakshadweep and their water area, Union ministry of environment and forests has allowed construction of bridge on one of the islands and given go ahead for post facto clearance for permissible activities started without prior green clearances.
The ministry issued a notification earlier this month amending the Islands Protection Zone Notification, 2011, permitting construction of two-lane bridge over Middle Strait to sin Andaman as an exception, provided that a minimum of three times the mangrove area affected/ cut during the construction process shall be taken up for compensatory plantation of mangroves elsewhere in the region.
The Central Government has also received representations regarding extension of validity of clearance issued under notification, consideration for inclusion of enabling provision of post facto clearance and a proposal for allowing bridges in the Island Coastal Regulation Zone area involving mangroves under the said notification.
"Cases where the construction have commenced without the requisite clearance, shall be considered only by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, provided that the request for such regularisation is received in the said Ministry by the 30 September 2018," said the notification.
Criticizing the move, Kanchi Kohli, Legal Research Director, CPR-Namati Environment Justice Program said that the amendment brings in two critical changes to the notification. "First, introduces the possibility of allowing for amendments by creating exceptions for specific projects. It does it once again by relying on the failed practice of compensatory plantations. It also extends the amnesty scheme for violators to the IPZ notification. The practice which started with the EIA Notification, extended to CRZ notification earlier this year and now this. Violations of environmental laws are once again rewarded with a possibility of regularization," said Kohli.
What is worrying is that the changes have been made without seeking people's opinion in the matter. "Ironically the environment ministry continues to bring out these changes in public interest while denying the public an opportunity to respond," she added.
The Central Government declared certain coastal stretches of the Middle Andaman, North Andaman, South Andaman and Greater Nicobar and entire area of the other islands of Andaman and Nicobar and the Lakshadweep and their water area upto territorial water limit as the Islands Protection Zone in 2011 and restrictions were imposed on the setting up and expansion of industries, operations and processes in the said Zone.