CHENNAI: Finally, after six years of delay, the State government is pushing hard to frame a Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP), which is vital in protecting ecologically sensitive areas and keeping encroachers at bay. But activists say this can be achieved only if CZMP is prepared following sound scientific principles.
Environmental activists claim that the haste shown by the government in having a CZMP is rather suspicious. A Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification of 2011 requires all coastal states to identify and act against CRZ violations, and prepare CZMPs. In July 2011, the Directorate of Environment, 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, said Pooja Kumar of Coastal Resource Centre, a city-based NGO advocating environment protection.
A CZMP prepared without identifying the current coastal violations will only regularise CRZ violations and free up coastal wetlands for real estate, the activists fear. As per the minutes of a high-level meeting chaired by the Environment Secretary on July 6, the draft CZMP was supposed to be uploaded for public consultation by August 15, but it has not been done yet.
The Directorate of Environment is required to work with National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Zone Management (NCSCM) to incorporate public comments by September end and conduct public consultations in all coastal districts by October 31. 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 December 31.
In April, Express had published an exhaustive report on how NCSCM got its High Tide Line demarcation wrong and opened up several wetlands for real estate exploitation. Amidst this, the Union environment ministry has extended the validity of the 1996 Government of India-approved state CZMP till July 2018.