Plan should serve as guide to future planning and development
The state government has rejected the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) stating that it was riddled with inaccuracies and not satisfactory. The CZMP was submitted by the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) to the government two years ago. The government has sent back the plan for rectifying the faults. The public hearings scheduled on July 7 stand postponed until the faults are rectified by the agency. Ever since the draft CZMP was put out in the public domain, people especially in the coastal areas have been pointing out one fault after another. Following public uproar the elected representatives apparently joined the chorus and demanded that it be scrapped. It is surprising to note that ministers and legislators from the coastal areas, despite having seen the plan at a special presentation held for them, failed to notice the faults and allowed the process of its finalization to be held.
The credit for rollback of the faulty plan should go to locals residing in the coastal belt, environmental groups and alert citizens who seized the opportunity to study it and point out the faults in it. The government has tried to pat itself on the back and claim the credit for having decided to “reject” the inaccurate plan following serious apprehensions raised by ministers and legislators at a special presentation of the CZMP at the secretariat. The government officials should have noted the mistakes at the presentation and sought rectification before the plan was put out in the public domain. The authorities could have saved a lot of time, which would now be lost in rectification of the plan, had they been alert at the first presentation. Having missed past deadlines, it is unlikely that the state would be able to finalise the plan before the deadline of August 31 set by the National Green Tribunal and send it for notification.
It is amazing to note that the state Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral has sought to blame the Congress party for failure to address issues of public during formation of plan in the years 1996 and 2011. Is this an attempt to divert attention from the failure of the government to live upto expectations of people and come out with a good plan that would have removed faults in the earlier plan? That the earlier plan was found to be faulty was known to the government but still no efforts were made to rectify the faults when the fresh exercise began when the Bharatiya Janata Party was at helm of affairs. Cabral should know that blaming the previous government would not help correct the wrongs that figure in the fresh draft CZMP. The government has an opportunity to show its far sight and vision by seizing the chance and coming out with a foolproof plan that would take care of the difficulties of people living in the coastal belt and help them make decent living as well as protect environment.
Goa has already incurred the wrath of NGT for its failure to adhere to various directives in the past and the latest failure to adhere to the August 31 deadline could invite fresh sanctions from the green body. In a belated move Revenue Minister, Rohan Khaunte, has said that the NCSCM had not considered the revenue records of the state and land use plan before drafting the CZMP. What prevented him from getting the draft plan corrected earlier given the fact that it would affect thousands of people across the state? The government should ensure that the plan was corrected with reliable data and that there was no scope for alienation from facts. It would be better if the officials of the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority and other concerned departments directly oversee preparation of the plan so as to avoid the mistakes that were found in the “rejected” draft plan. The state authorities should pass on all the faults noted in the plan to NCSCM and ensure that corrected CZMP would serve as guide to future planning and development in the coastal belt.