‘Coastal Zone Management Plan is full of errors, cancel public hearing’

Addressing a press conference in Chennai on Wednesday, fishermen groups threatened to boycott the public hearing if the state fails to withdraw the ‘incomplete’ CZMP maps.

Published: 10th August 2023 06:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th August 2023 06:54 AM   |  A+A-

Kasimedu Fishing Harbour

Image used for represenatation.

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Several fishermen on Wednesday urged the state government to cancel the public hearing on draft Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) scheduled on August 18 as the plan is riddled with errors and several key details are missing. Only 15 out of 44 fishing villages in Chengalpattu district are marked with names in the plan and even Mamallapuram, a well-known heritage site, is unmarked, fishermen said. 

“Twenty-nine villages are not identified in the plan. Even with respect to the 15 villages that are marked, there are boundary demarcation errors. Mamallapuram is also not marked. Only the shoreline temple is shown and the Mamallapuram fishing village is marked as fishermen settlement area,” K Bharati, president, South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association, said.    

Addressing a press conference in Chennai on Wednesday, fishermen groups, including South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association, Tamil Nadu Fishermen Development Association, All India Traditional Fishermen Association, Chengalpattu District Fishermen Cooperative Network, and Chengalpattu Fisher Village Panchayat threatened to boycott the public hearing if the state fails to withdraw the ‘incomplete’ CZMP maps.

‘No housing plans on any CZMP map for Tamil Nadu’

They said the most basic livelihood spaces of fishing villages are fishing zones and fish breeding areas in rivers and sea. The common properties of fishing villages include the shore seine net (periya valai) shoreline fishing areas, fish markets, net drying sheds, and boat repairing areas.  Infrastructure facilities for fishing and local communities include village roads, anganwadi, community halls, and places of worship. According to CZMP 2019, these areas are legally required to be marked on CZMPs, but none of the CZMPs of 12 districts have those details. Because of this, traditional fishing habitats are losing their legal protection, the fishers said.  Such neglect is directly depriving coastal fishing villages and small-scale fishers of their livelihood spaces that are already vulnerable to mega-ports, real estate and tourism projects, they said. 

Considering the housing needs of fishing villages, long-term housing plans are mandated to be registered in CZMPs as per the CRZ 2019 notification. However, no housing plans are demarcated on any of the CZMP maps for Tamil Nadu, they pointed out. 

“Local-level CZMP maps provide micro (1:4000) scale information needed to protect the ecology and livelihood commons of coastal villagers. These were never published under CRZ 2019. At a scale of 1:25000 the fishing villages look tiny. We will be able to make our comments about our fishing villages in CZMP maps only at the scale of 1:4000, said M Arumugam, president, Chengalpattu District Fishermen Cooperative Network.

Seawater inundation into fishing villages due to sea-level rise and loss of coastal land due to projects undertaken without proper foresight of sea erosion will affect villages in coastal areas that are the first to be hit by such natural calamities. “To protect the habitats and livelihood of fishermen from these issues, long-term housing plans and sea erosion areas should be legally registered by the Tamil Nadu government immediately in CZMPs”, said K Bharati, president, South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association.

Deepak S Bilgi, director, department of environment and member-secretary of Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority, told TNIE that as per 2019 CRZ notification, first 1:25000 scale maps are prepared and put up for public hearing. After receiving the comments, necessary corrections will be made and sent to the Union environment ministry for approval. Once the approval is received, we will prepare the 1:4000 maps. 

“Fishermen can register all their objections during the public hearing,” Bilgi said. Fishermen leader K Saravanan, however, said Kerala has prepared both 1:25000 and 1:4000 scale maps at the same time and made them public.

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