CHENNAI: The Union Environment Ministry has approved the revised Tamil Nadu Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) and it’s much-improved version with an additional 11,000 acres of ecologically sensitive coastal wetlands, which were earlier ‘suspiciously’ omitted, brought under the purview of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) regulation.
Though the approval was granted in October, the Department of Environment has uploaded the 117 CZMP maps of all the 13 coastal districts in the State in its official website only now. A closer look at the maps shows that vast tract of salts pans, measuring about 11,000 acres in Valinokkam village in Ramanathapuram, Manakudy Kayal in Kanniyakumari, wetlands of Vedanranyam lagoon in Nagapattinam and Villupuram, have been brought under CRZ.
“This was possible largely because of vigilant fisher folk who undertook ground-truthing exercises and questioned the authorities, submitting objections in writing and during public hearings,” said K Saravanan from Urur Kuppam fishing village in Chennai.
A Udhayan, Director, Department of Environment, told the Express, “I cannot specifically tell whether 11,000 acres of coastal wetlands were added to the original draft CZMP prepared by the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM), but definitely a significant area was brought under CRZ during the revision. We have addressed each and every objection received, both written and oral. Several rounds of discussions were held with authorities and exhaustive ground-truthing was done,” he said and applauded fishermen for bringing to light some of the genuine omissions in the draft.
However, fishermen are still unhappy with the approved CZMP, saying it is still incomplete and has violated the guidelines of the CRZ Notification 2011. The maps failed to incorporate important features like land use of local fishing communities, long-term housing plan for fisher folk, fishing zones and fish breeding areas and identification of violations.
Responding to this, Udhayan said mapping of fishing infrastructure will be carried out in cadastral maps of 1:5000 scale. “We have already awarded the contract to Institute of Remote Sensing (IRS), Anna University. Since the approval for CZMP was accorded, phase-2 works will follow,” he said. On identifying violations, he said the process will begin now based on the approved maps.
Though hazard line is incorporated in the CZMP, the Centre’s recent amendment to CRZ Notification, 2011, has removed all administrative powers of ‘hazard line’ within the CRZ Framework, reducing the hazard line to merely a tool that has to be taken into account while planning. The need for hazard mapping for coastal planning gained relevance after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and the recent Cyclone Gaja.
K Bharathi of South Indian Fisher Welfare Federation said: “We will intensify our struggle to secure a complete, effective coastal plan to safeguard our collective futures.”
Fishers not happy
Despite being appreciated for bringing to light some of the genuine omissions in the draft, the fishermen are still unhappy with the approved CZMP. They say it is still incomplete as the maps failed to incorporate features like land use of local fishing communities, long-term housing plan for fisher folk, fishing zones and fish breeding areas and identification of violations