Across Tamil Nadu, hundreds of fishermen have been protesting the lack of inclusion of traditional land use by the fishing community and the absence of the hazard line in the draft coastal zone management plan (CZMP). The draft had also left out crucial wetlands and creeks out of the plan, raising concerns among activists.
Following demonstrations and representations by the community, Collector V Anbuselvan, in a letter, asked the Pollution Control Board to explain if the documents were in conformity with the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011, and the orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
For the agitators, this comes as a significant development.
Speaking to DT Next, K Bharathi, president of South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association, said their representations to the authorities who drafted the CZMP were in vain.
“As per the CRZ Notifications 2011, the draft CZMP should contain the traditional land use plan of the fisherfolk who use the coastal commons for their livelihood. In addition, there should be allocations for housing for the fishing community. Following the directions by the NGT, a hazard line should be marked. If there are changes being made to the earlier CZMP, explanations should be given. But draft CZMP that was uploaded for public consultation doesn’t feature any of this. The government is just keen on opening these crucial lands for development, without thinking of the consequences,” he said.
The announcement about the public hearing in various coastal districts only added fuel to the fire. The fisherfolk warned of larger protests if the incomplete and illegal draft CZMP was not withdrawn and reworked as per the law. “Fishermen across the state will hold a bigger stir if their livelihoods are not considered in the CZMP,” Bharathi added.