Draft Coastal Zone Management Plan prepared but not yet in public domain; Scale of the plan reduced creating ambiguities in areas along CRZ line border
MARGAO: The draft report on the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) for Goa is ready but the State government has yet to release it to the public, particularly to the traditional coastal community, which is the primary stakeholder of the coastal areas.
The CZMP has to be prepared by the State Government under the CRZ Notification 2011 by engaging the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) and in consultation with the concerned stakeholders. The plan must include a map of scale 1:25000 identifying and classifying the CRZ areas. Before submitting the plan to the Union Ministry for Environment and Forest (MoEF), the plan has to be placed before the public for suggestions and objections.
Interestingly, the Draft CZMP was prepared in May 2017. Herald has the 131-page plan in its possession, which includes the CZMP map, statistical data and the location of various infrastructure, facilities etc along the coastline.
Sources in the government revealed last year that the plan was shown to some MLAs in a meeting held in the Secretariat. In that meeting, the MLAs objected to the Hazard Line at many places since it affects some hotel projects falling within this line.
GCZMA has not just kept the plan away from the public, they have even hidden the plan from the courts. In the case Goa Foundation v/s GCZMA and others (PILWRIT 26/2017) concerning a hotel in Miramar, the High Court noted that in January 2017 GCZMA did not accept the report of NCSCM to draw the high tide line along with a line parallel to the lighthouse near the hotel.
The Court directed GCZMA to approach NCSCM to carry out the exercise. However, GCZMA did not reveal that the draft CZMP has already been prepared in which the HTL has also been demarcated in the CZMP map. If the map is produced before the court, there would be no need to carry out another exercise specific to the hotel project.
Sources reveal that the real reason that the Draft CZMP has not been made public is that another draft is being prepared with alterations made at the behest of politicians and real estate lobbies. One of the major changes is that the scale of the plan has been reduced from 1:25000 to 1:5000 thus creating ambiguities in the areas along the border of the CRZ line.
It is not yet clear when the CZMP will be opened up for public scrutiny. The draft CRZ 2018 notification if passed will make the CZMP plan redundant since this notification does not recognise khazan lands. There is little doubt that the CZMP will go a long way in removing any ambiguity of the High Tide line which will resolve much of the issues related to illegal construction in the CRZ area.
MPT has the plan, fishing community does not
People who downloaded the Environment Impact Assessment Document for the Proposed Liquid Cargo berth (POL berth), were surprised to see that the document had the CZMP map as an annexure. Since the draft map is not yet in public domain, they raised the question of how did MPT gain access to the map. It must be noted that the fishing communities along the coast have been consistently demanding that the CZMP be prepared and notified in order to protect their houses along the CRZ areas.