CHENNAI: With the State Environment Department releasing the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) and land use maps recently, activists allege that the department has failed to use CZMP released in 1996 as a base map, in which ecologically sensitive areas were demarcated properly, and failed to include salt pans, backwaters and other sensitive areas near Ennore in the new map.
K Saravanan, an activist from one of the fisher villages in the city, said the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had approved the CZMP 1996 prepared by the state government several years ago. “But the state government modified the map and excluded several salt pans, waterbodies, backwaters and others in 1997 to allow petrochemical industries in the area. Meanwhile, the National Green Tribunal directed the government to use the 1996 CZMP as a base map for preparing the 2019 CZMP a few years ago. But they did not use the 1996 CZMP as a base map. This has resulted in excluding salt pans, backwaters and others,” he explained.
Meanwhile, P Mahendran, a fisherman from Kattukuppam near Ennore, approached the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal pointing out that the failure of using the 1996 CZMP as a base map resulted in excluding water bodies. It was based on Mahendran’s earlier case that the NGT gave direction to use the 1996 CZMP as a base map.
“The drafts are essentially incomplete. Portions of the water body itself are not shown. It is not that some errors need correction. There are fundamental and fatal lapses in failing to prepare the CZMP with the correct baseline map, namely the Government of India-approved 1996 CZMP. The draft maps must be complete in all respects while being published. The 1997 CZMP had excluded the entire Kosasthalaiyar River,” Mahendran said in his petition (dated Dec 1) to the NGT. The petition added that experience has shown that the left-out areas will not be marked by the authorities on their own accord and pointed out that while preparing the 2018 CZMPs, the same request was made but not heeded to.
He recalled that during the earlier case, the authorities submitted a report saying that some areas were added in the 2018 CZMPs, but the Tribunal refused to accept and directed them to do the exercise based on the 1996 CZMP.
Fishermen organisations are also demanding the Tamil version of the draft CZMP and land use maps. The last date for sending objections ended on Nov 21.