November 2013

Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority committees in coastal districts soon

 GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government has decided to have district-level committees in all the coastal districts of the state under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Act, 2011. These committees will function under the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA). The forest and environment department has ordered district collectors in coastal districts to constitute the committees soon.

The collector will be the chairman of the new district CRZ committee while all chief officers of municipalities, assistant director of fisheries, deputy conservator of forest, district forests officers, local fishing community members, district town planning officer, concerned port officers and the regional officers of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) will be the members of the committee.

The committee will assist the GCZMA in enforcement and monitoring of the CRZ notification of 2011. It will verify the complaints regarding CRZ notification violation in their respective jurisdictions, take necessary actions and shall submit a report to the GCZMA for further course of action. The committee shall have the powers to take measures for protecting and improving the quality of the coastal environment and for preventing, abating and controlling environmental pollution in coastal areas of the state.

It shall take time bound steps for identification of violations of the provisions of the CRZ notification and Environment Protection Act, 1986. The committee shall identify violations in CRZ-I, CRZ-II and CRZ-III areas within their respective jurisdictions and initiate action under Environment Protection Act. The committee will take strong actions for removing any encroachments in the coastal areas.

With no basic infrastructure, Kasimedu fishing harbour rots

 Bad roads, piles of garbage, streetlights that don’t work, no toilets or drinking water — all this, at the heart of the metropolis in the Kasimedu fishing harbour.

Though the harbour is where most of the city’s daily consumption of 100 tonnes of fish lands, its infrastructure inside is pathetic, say fishermen.

In February this year, the chairman of the Chennai Port Trust visited the harbour and promised that basic amenities would be improved. The visit came after talks with fishermen about their demands, including reclamation of around 100 metres of land where their fishing stalls would come up.

The land on which the stalls are presently located is required to widen a portion of the road that forms part of the Ennore Manali Road Improvement Project.

P. Sesha of the Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram Mechanised Fishing Boats Owners Association said that since the Port Trust controlled the harbour, agencies like Chennai Corporation and Chennai Metrowater could not enter the premises.

“It is the duty of the Port Trust to arrange for water supply, which it has not done. The two toilet complexes that are coming up now are hardly enough for the 5,000 persons who work here. On weekdays around 10,000 people come to the harbour and on Sundays, the number doubles,” he said.

As there are no dustbins and no clearance of garbage, fishermen are forced to dispose of thermocol and plastics in the water, he said.

Keep the coasts clear for small-scale fishermen

 Artisanal fishers (those who fish for subsistence or local markets using traditional fishing techniques and small boats) are facing one of toughest challenges of their lives. Their home, the Indian coastline, has become the most-preferred site for nuclear and thermal power plants, SEZ projects (thanks to transport facilities via the sea and the availability of water for cooling turbines) besides the existing ones: ports, oil pipelines, tourism and prime residential real estate.
Last year, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences put out a map plotting the proposed projects on the coast: the dots leave no room for fishing villages. A research report by the Dakshin Foundation found that, on an average, every fishing village uses about 3 km beyond its boundary for parking boats, net repairs and other livelihood functions.

According to the Marine Census data, there are more than 3,200 marine fishing villages in the country. Most groups mentioned above and several hundred others are affiliated to the National Fishworker Forum (NFF), a four-decade-old non-partisan trade union of artisanal fishers, and a critical tool in their hands is the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification of 2011. It allows fishermen to play a role in the planning and enforcement of the Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMPs).

But it is full of vague terms and rhetoric and is not bound to any positive outcomes to guide its implementation. However, the clause instituting the District Level Coastal Committee (DLCC) carries the promise of enforcement because it takes the first step in viewing artisanal fishers as partners of the government in regulating land use on the coast.

State to apologise for Vizhinjam port road

 THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, November 22, 2013
The State government will tender an apology to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for constructing a road for the proposed Vizhinjam port without clearance under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) regulations.

Complaints had gone from Vizhinjam from those opposing the project pointing out the violation of CRZ regulations indulged in by the government while constructing a 600-metre-long approach road to the site of the proposed port. These had become an embarrassment for the government at this crucial point of time, when the Expert Appraisal Committee of the MoEF was considering the question of according environmental clearance for the more-than-Rs.5,000-crore project.

The board members of Vizhinjam International Seaports Limited (VISL), the government agency overseeing the efforts to set up the port, met at the Chief Minister’s residence on Thursday and decided to rush the government’s apology to the MoEF ahead of Saturday’s sitting of the Expert Appraisal Committee, which would consider the VISL’s application for environmental clearance for the project. The matter had come up before the committee at two previous sittings.

The road issue and some other complaints about the Environmental Impact Assessment done for the project and also the VISL’s replies to the complaints were now before the committee. “We are eagerly awaiting environmental clearance for the project. We will tender our apology for the slip on the part of the previous government [in constructing the road without CRZ clearance],” Minister for Ports K. Babu told presspersons after the VISL board meeting at the Chief Minister’s residence. The road was constructed during the 2006-11 period when the Left Democratic Front (LDF) was in the government.

‘Helen’ moves menacingly closer to Masula

 Heavy to very heavy rain may lash three coastal districts – Guntur, Krishna and West Godavari – as tropical cyclonic storm, Helen, intensified into a severe cyclone on Thursday.

The storm lay centred about 180 km east-southeast of Machilipatnam and is expected to cross its coast during afternoon / evening on Friday. Under its influence, Guntur, Krishna, West and East Godavari districts may witness heavy to very heavy rainfall in the next 48 hours.

Heavy rainfall is also forecast for places in Telangana and Rayalaseema districts.

The cyclone initially moved in west southwest direction and was anticipated to hit the coast near Prakasam / Nellore.

But it subsequently changed course and was moving westwards to make landfall near Machiplipatnam.

The Meteorological Department had issued an orange message for the cyclone indicating it had strength of breaking branches of trees and uprooting of large avenue trees that could snap power and communication lines.

The severe cyclonic storm will be accompanied by winds that could reach speed of 95 to 105 kmph and storm surge of 1.5 m height and above. This could inundate low-lying areas along the coast.

In view of forecast of rough to very rough condition of the sea over the next two days, the Met department had asked the Government to ensure total suspension of fishing operations and evacuation of hutment dwellers in low-lying areas to safer places.


With the threat of large-scale inundation looming large, the State Government had put the administration of three districts on alert. Revenue Minister N. Raghuveera Reddy, who conducted a videoconference with the Collectors, enquired about the preparedness to tackle the impending calamity.

Mumbai’s Flamingos Under Threat

 Plans to build the Mumbai Trans Harbor Link, a 22-kilometer bridge that would connect South Mumbai to New Mumbai, the proposed township to the city’s east, could have an adverse effect on one of the financial capital’s many migrant populations: Flamingos.

The proposed bridge raises environmental concerns because it passes over 2.1 kilometers of mud flats, according to a 2012 report of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, the Maharashtra state government body responsible for the city’s infrastructure.

Mud flats are coastal wetlands that consist of rich, fertile soil brought in on the tide and deposited in an inter-tidal zone. At the bridge’s starting point in Sewri, these mud flats are also home to over 100,000 waders (shorebirds) and around 20,000 flamingos, said Asad Rahmani, director of the Bombay Natural History Society, an environmental nonprofit in Mumbai.

In the early 1990s, flocks of greater and lesser flamingos started migrating to Mumbai, arriving in late October or early November, and staying until the end of May, when the monsoon begins, said Mr. Rahmani.

Environmentalists and bird enthusiasts do not know whether the flamingos come from the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, or Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa, said Mr. Rahmani. But the reason why they come is more obvious, the abundance of food and physical protection here, he added.

The trans harbor link as currently proposed originates from the point to where the flamingos arrive in large numbers, said Mr. Rahmani. “BNHS is not against the construction of the link, but we are insisting that the starting point at Sewri is shifted 500 to 700 meters south,” he said.

But the authorities don’t seem to be for moving.

Public hearing on coastal management plans postponed

 Fishermen and residents had complained of inaccuracies in the plan and raised doubts about its usefulness

The State government has postponed the public hearing on coastal zone management plan (CZMP) scheduled for Tuesday.

This comes after fishermen and residents complained of inaccuracies in the plan and raised doubts about its usefulness.

S. Rupeshkumar, president of Traditional Fishermen Association, said government officials tried to persuade them to attend the hearing with a promise to hold another one later. However, the fishermen refused and said they would agitate if the officials persisted with it.

The coastal regulation zone (CRZ) notification, 2011, mandates the State government to prepare plans to regulate development along the coast and accommodate the long-term needs of fishermen.

On Monday, the State department of environment uploaded three maps of Chennai CZMP along with other maps for the State. This comes after the residents raised questions about the hurriedly convened meeting without proper notification and dissemination of plans. They also complained about the lack of information in Tamil.

The uploaded maps indicate the location of the low- and high-tide lines (HTL) and demarcate the 200- and 500-metre lines from HTL, which are used for identifying different coastal regulation zones.

However, they do not contain information such as land use, and location of storm shelters and community facilities, which are essential for rescue and relief operations. There is no clear demarcation of fishing hamlets and plans to meet their future housing needs.

The maps are also inaccurate. For example, the maps show roads floating over river Adyar, and wrongly-located fishing hamlets east of Besant Nagar as being part of Santhome area. Similarly, it locates Chepauk on Island Grounds and roads run over Cooum river.

Inspections begin in Mayiladuthurai, Sirkazhi

Inspections were held in Sirkazhi and Mayiladuthurai to evaluate Saturday’s damage caused by the deep depression here.

Collector T. Munusamy and Secretary of Social Welfare and Noon Meal Scheme P.M. Basheer Ahamed visited Madavaamedu, Pazhayar, and Pudupattinam in Sirkazhi, and Maadhanam in Mayiladuthurai. Visiting the Pazhayar jetty, where some boats were damaged, the team interacted with fishermen and ascertained the extent of damage.

The fishermen complained that the channel to the sea was blocked with silt and demanded an alternative arrangement.

In Sirkazhi, personnel from other districts were deployed to reinstall electrical posts that were uprooted by the gale in a few areas.

The team also inspected anganwadis to check if adequate food stock is available to meet monsoon-related contingencies.

TIRUCHI: The people of central districts heaved a sigh of relief with sky clearing up on Sunday after a day’s incessant rainfall.

Even though the sky remained overcast for a major part of the day today, no rain was experienced in many parts of the central region.

The district authorities launched relief measures. Mayiladuthurai town in Nagapattinam district experienced the maximum rainfall of 220 m.m. in the central districts in the last 24 hours that ended at 8 a.m. on Sunday.

The other chief amounts of rainfall in Nagapattinam district are Manalmedu 127 m.m. rainfall, Anaikarai Chathiram 80.5 m.m., Sirkazhi and Tarangambadi 65 m.m. each.

Nagapattinam district recorded an average rainfall of 63.08 m.m.

Postpone hearing, say Chennai fisherfolk

 Members of various fishermen associations in the city want the public hearing on the coastal zone management plan, scheduled for next week, to be postponed. They have demanded more transparency in communication about the meeting.

The government, which has prepared coastal zone management plan maps, has planned to conduct a public hearing on November 19 at the Corporation Community Hall, Luz Avenue, 1 Street, Mylapore.

On Saturday, the leaders of fishermen associations said coastal zone notification deals with the scope of coastal conservation and regulates developmental activities up to 500 metres from the high tide line.

This had the potential of damaging the living area and the livelihood of the fishing community, they said.

“We were not properly informed about the public hearing. We were not given copies of the maps or the plans at the offices of the district collectorate and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. Even the executive summary available online is only in English,” said S. Rupeshkumar, president of Traditional Fishermen Association.

Members of the Tamil Nadu Meenava Makkal Sangam said though the website stated the summary was available in Tamil as well, the version available for download was only in English.

“Unless we know the contents of the summary and the maps, we cannot share our views on demarcation of zones at the public hearing,” said the association’s president, Ko.Si. Mani.

The fishermen associations demanded they be provided access to the Tamil version of the summary and the hearing be postponed, failing which, they plan to go on a State-wide demonstration.

300 people moved to cyclone shelters in Cuddalore

 Strong wind and heavy rain started in district on Saturday morning and officials began evacuating people living in vulnerable coastal areas to cyclone shelters.

Chidambaram Sub-Collector M. Arvind told The Hindu, “So far, 300 people living in 25 hamlets dotting the coastline from Parangipettai to Chidambaram have been moved to cyclone shelters located in their areas.”

These people were staying in fragile habitations in places such as Samiyarpettai, Pudupettai, Pudhuchathiram, Chinna Vaikkal, Mudasalodai, Killai, Pichavaram, Keezhathirukazhipalai, Veerankovilthittu, Keezh Perambai, Keezh Thirukazhipalai, Kanakkarapattu, Nandimangalam, Thirunaraiyur, Pudhukuppam and Vallambadugai.

After the 2004 tsunami and cyclone ‘Thane,’ several concrete structures had come up along the coast, thus minimising the exposure of coastal community to nature’s fury. However, there were still families living in vulnerable dwelling units that would need help during natural calamities.

Each of the existing cyclone shelter could accommodate about 300 to 400 people, while six newly-built ones could accommodate about 1,000 people each.

All these shelters had been provided adequate supply of essential commodities and drinking water. While the new shelters could boast of permanent generator sets, mobile generator sets had been provided at the old shelters, Mr. Arvind said.

Fishermen didn’t venture into the sea for the past three days. As many as 210 motorised boats and 1,100 fibre-reinforced plastic boats were idling in the shore.

Port officer M. Anbarasan told this correspondent that anticipation damage owing to the depression, boats in the services of Cuddalore Port had been safely secured. Tugs and barges belonging to private companies located in the coastal areas were safe in the Karaikkal port.