Old CZMP expires; ‘incomplete’ plan submitted
The Union Environment Ministry has extended the 1996 CZMP at least five times in the past although the State government made vain attempts to bring new CZMP in 2013.
CHENNAI:The 22-year-old Tamil Nadu Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP), which was approved way back in 1996, expired on Tuesday and what will be replacing it is feared to be an ‘incomplete’ and ‘weak’ CZMP that would leave the coastal area at the mercy of real estate sharks.
The Union Environment Ministry has extended the 1996 CZMP at least five times in the past although the State government made vain attempts to bring new CZMP in 2013. Now, a new CZMP has been prepared based on draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018 and officials in the Department of Environment confirmed to Express that new CZMP had been submitted to the Union Environment Ministry for approval.
However, activists allege that CZMP prepared by the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) lacks some of the key and basic components such as hazard line, a demarcation of areas that are vulnerable to the effects of sea-level rise, waves and tides. Also, long-term housing plan and mapping fishing villages mandated in the notification are also missing.
During all public hearings conducted in 13 coastal districts of Tamil Nadu, fishermen protested against the CZMP. Fishermen have boycotted at least five public hearings. But, the District Collectors have declared the public hearings to have been conducted. Despite opposition, the Department of Environment has forwarded the incomplete CZMP.
K Saravanan, fishermen leader from Urur Kuppam, said the draft plan has several blunders. In Chennai, Ramanathapuram, Kanniyakumari, Tiruvallur, Nagapattinam and Cuddalore districts, large tracts of salt pans and wetlands have been omitted.
“In Chennai, large extent of coastline upto Uthandi on East Coast Road has been changed from CRZ III to CRZ II, essentially freeing it for development. Besides, the notification also requires the state government to provide necessary safeguards for the fishing communities if located within the hazard line. Not demarcating the hazard line will provide leeway for unrestricted development in vulnerable and dangerous areas,” he said.
When contacted, A Udhayan, director, Department of Environment, confirmed to Express that the new CZMP had been submitted to the Union Environment Ministry. But, he said a few changes had been made, taking into account the objections raised by the fisher community.
Pertaining to hazard line, Udhayan said it was being prepared by the Survey of India, and Tamil Nadu has not received it. “Once the hazard line is prepared by the Survey of India, it will be incorporated into the CZMP. It will be altogether a different exercise,” the official said.
In a controversial move, the Union Environmental Ministry has brought amendment to CRZ Notification, 2011 that removes all administrative powers given to the “hazard line” within the CRZ framework, reducing the hazard line to merely a tool that has to be taken into account while planning. “The spirit of the CRZ notification, that introduced the hazard line as a way forward for sustainable coastal planning has been misused,” said Pooja Kumar of Coastal Resource Centre.The need for hazard mapping for coastal planning gained relevance after the 2004 tsunami.