Goa govt must address people’s concerns regarding draft CZMP
Goa is again likely to miss the November 15 deadline for finalization of Goa Coastal Zone Management Plan set by the National Green Tribunal. The state Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral has sought a meeting with Union Environment and Forests and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar to push for amendments to the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011. The changes to the CRZ notification have been sought to facilitate finalisation of draft CZMP. Surprisingly, Cabral wrote a letter to Javadekar on October 31, only two weeks before the deadline. Goa missed the August 31 deadline to finalise CZMP. By not being able to meet the November 15 deadline the state will be acting contrary to the directions given by the Goa bench of Bombay High Court.
CZMP has been in force since 1996 in the state. The first draft of the latest CZMP for Goa was prepared in 2017 by the Chennai-based National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management but it was found to be faulty and lacking in details and was opposed vehemently by people of several villages living in the coastal areas. All efforts made by the state authorities to rectify the faults and finalise the plan have failed. Following the ultimatum issued by the NGT the state authorities had set themselves a timeframe for finalization of the CZMP. Accordingly the government had set September 24 for submitting objections and suggestions from various organisations, individuals, other stakeholders and associations of fishermen. The suggestions received from stakeholders were to be sent to the NCSCM for incorporating into the latest draft plan. It had also fixed November 5 as the date for public hearing day to receive suggestions and objections to drafts so that the plan could be finalized and sent to central authorities for approval by November 15.
However, the state’s plans for finalization of the CZMP have gone awry forcing it to seek changes to existing rules after people objected the inaccuracies in the draft. The government is now seeking reduction of no-development zone for headlands, notification of census towns as CRZ-II, demarcation of high tide line up to the bund in the khazan land and insertion of new provisions to protect all the existing projects approved prior to the CRZ Notification 2011. It also wants that high tide line should be fixed from the closest point of permissible development. Cabral has sought presence of officials of all concerned departments at the meeting for deliberating and deciding on state’s demands for changes. It now appears that by the time the decision is taken on Goa’s demands the deadline for finalization of CZMP is expected to expire and Goa will miss the deadline yet again. In such an eventuality the NGT, which has warned to take stern action, is likely to come down heavily on the state government because of its repeated failure to implement its directions.
The state’s approach in finalization of the CZMP has apparently been not sincere. The NCSCM, which prepared the draft plan, held a presentation for the state authorities, who failed to note the discrepancies in it. Public uproar over inaccuracies forced the government to order the Chennai-based agency to redraw the plan, which too failed to meet people’s expectations. Since the earlier plans were drawn without any actual survey and shaky data it was necessary that a thorough study was carried out while preparing the latest draft. It is apparent that NCSCM failed to carry out ground level survey while preparing draft. It is necessary that a foolproof plan is prepared following a proper ground level study, which would require time. It has to be noted that work done in a hurry to meet the deadline might not be upto the mark and fail public scrutiny and expose stakeholders to risk and uncertainties. The state authorities should impress upon NGT to give Goa further but reasonable extension so as to prepare a futuristic plan that will hold good for all.