In an attempt to put an end to rapid human-induced sea erosion that is plaguing a number of areas on the eastern coastline, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) here has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to convene a meeting of Member Secretaries of the Coastal Zone Management Authority (CZMA) of five states and a Union Territory to evolve a comprehensive management plan for the coast.
The meeting should be convened by the Secretary of the MoEF once all the states and the UT - Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Puducherry - complete a study of their coast and place a report before the union ministry detailing the measures necessary for proper management of their coastline.
Once all the states complete the studies, it should lead to the preparation of a comprehensive, integrated coastal zone management plan for the entire eastern coastline, the drawing of which should be “ensured” by the central authority.
Passing the order in a petition filed by the Coastal Action Network, an NGO, that sought an end to hard structures such as sea walls that were being built along the Tamil Nadu coast and for a preparation of a sustainable management plan for the coastline, the Southern Bench comprising of Judicial Member Justice M Chockalingam and Expert Member Professor R Nagendran said that the matter was a serious one that involved the interest of the entire nation.
“Though this is the southern bench, we feel given the national interest we will also involve Odisha and West Bengal so that a comprehensive plan is made out for the eastern coast,” said Justice Chockalingam in the open court. On Tuesday, the TN Coastal Zone Management Authority submitted that it had applied before the Central authority for taking measures to arrest sea erosion in areas adjoining the Puducherry coast that was caused by a port built in the UT. This involved building a sea wall in Vanur Taluk of Villupuram. However, the tribunal pointed out that it did not want a piece meal measure for a particular Taluk that will serve no purpose.
Meanwhile, the counsel for the Puducherry Coastal Zone Management Authority submitted that the UT had already done a study in 2010 which had recommended soft measures to tackle the erosion that was caused by the port. But after a little probing by the bench in front of the Member Secretary of the Central Expert Appraisal Committee for CRZ, Lalit Kapoor, who was present before the tribunal, it was admitted by the counsel that the study report had not been served to the NCZMA for perusal.
Following the submissions, the bench directed the Puducherry authority to forward the study to the NCZMA through proper channels. In so far as Tamil Nadu was concerned, the authorities were asked to conduct a study on the 13 coastal districts to analyse the hard structures being put up in the coastal area and also prepare long term and short term measures for sustainable management.
The bench then directed the respondents to file a status report before the next hearing on January 7.