Rs. 95 crore for Raigad fishermen

In the highest compensation it has ever awarded, the National Green Tribunal has directed ONGC, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and the City & Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra (CIDCO) to pay Rs. 95.19 crore to the traditional fishermen families of Raigad district in Maharashtra.

V.R. Kingaonkar and Ajay Deshpande (Expert Member), sitting on the NGT (Western Zone) Bench in Pune, passed the order on February 27, on an application filed on behalf of the families who had alleged loss of livelihood by projects of these companies.

The sum will be distributed equally among 1,630 families.

To undo the damage done to the environment, the companies have also been directed to pay Rs. 50 lakh for planting mangroves and ensuring free passage of tidal currents in consultation with the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority.

The families which approached the NGT had claimed that project activities of these companies such as the reclamation of land, removal of Mangroves in the area that resulted in reducing breeding of fishes and narrowing the navigational route of the traditional boats had added to their misery by prohibiting them from their traditional right of fishing.

“The NGT held the companies responsible for causing degradation of environment due to destruction of Mangroves in the area, particularly, because of illegal reclamation, widening, deepening of channels and narrowing down width of Nhava- Sheva creek, which would disallow easy access to traditional route of the fishermen’s boats and destructing the aquatic life,” said Advocate Asim Sarode who represented the fishermen in the case.

Deltas Sinking and Shrinking as Dams Curb Steady Flow of Fresh Water to the Coast

CHENNAI: The deltas across the country are sinking and shrinking as dams and reservoirs has stopped the flow of fresh water to the sea besides the riuse in sea level, according to R Ramesh, director of National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management.

Ramesh told Express on the sidelines of Multi Stakeholders Consultative Meeting on Coastal and Marine Zone Management at the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation that the dams and reservoirs have reduced the water flow to the coast and this is a global phenomenon.

He said that the major reason behind sinking and shrinking of deltas is sediment trapping by the dams built on the upstream rivers, which has resulted in oceans eroding and eating away deltas.

He said his Centre is also identifying the hotspots along the coastline that are vulnerable to pollution. He said National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management has launched a study on the Indian coast and has completed nearly 50 per cent of it.

“We have completed the stretch between Kerala to Tamil Nadu and Kerala to Gujarat. Now we have to study the stretch between Goa to Gujarat and also between Tamil Nadu to West Bengal,” said Ramesh.

He said the study would identify eutrphication of estuaries as well as dangerous algae blooms besides various other factors. “We have hired the ship from National Institute of Ocean Technology and are conducting the study. The hotspots will be identified once the data will be collated,” he added.

He also said a national guideline for the development and implementation of Indian Coastal Zone Management plans in India has been developed. Currently, it is being implemented in Gujarat (Gulf of Kachchh), West Bengal (Digha to Sankarpur and Sagar Island) and Odisha (Gopalpur to Chilika and Paradeep to Dhamra). This will soon be implemented in other states also, he added. He said the ICZM guidelines would only be implemented in the vulnerable areas.

After Centre maps CRZ-1, TN Will Formulate Coastal Zone Management Plan

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu will come out with its own Coastal Zone management plan once Ministry of Environment and Forest completes the mapping of Coastal Regulation Zone One as well as High Tide Line.

R Ramesh, director of Chennai-based National Center for Sustainable Coastal Management, an autonomous body of Ministry of Environment and Forest, told Express that the process to map CRZ-1 and High Tide Line is on the verge of completion and everything is likely to be in place in the next six months.

“Once CRZ-1 and High Tide Line is mapped then states will be coming up with a state costal zone management plan,” said Ramesh during the sidelines of Multi-Stakeholders Consultative Meeting on Coastal and Marine Zone Management organized by M S Swaminathan Research Foundation.

The CRZ-I consists of ecologically sensitive areas. These include mangroves, coral reefs, seagrass, salt marshes, protected areas or reserve forests besides horse shoe crab habitats, turtle nesting sites and bird nesting sites. It also includes geomorphologically important areas, which include sand dunes, sandy beaches, mudflats and inter-tidal areas besides heritage and archaeological sites.

He said that all these would be mapped in a digital format. He said the high tide line, the line on the land upto which the highest water line reaches during the spring tide, is also being mapped so that it could be used as a baseline for development as well as conservation activities along the coast.

“Both have been mapped aerially by the Survey of India,” he said. Ramesh also said the hazard line along Indian coast is being mapped by taking into account erosion and flooding of the coast.

It is being demarcated as the most landward boundary taking into account water level fluctuation, sea level rise and shoreline changes (erosion and accretion of the coast).

Govt moots ideas to sync green norms with growth

NEW DELHI: A number of steps have been taken in the past six months to speed up green clearances but the government is also examining 55 additional suggestions to achieve its twin goals of economic growth and environment protection.

Many of the suggestions, extended by a high-level panel of the environment ministry, will either be incorporated in the existing laws through suitable amendments or be made part of a new 'umbrella' law which may be introduced in Parliament during the Budget session.

Environment gets the axe

The first thing that strikes one about the report of the high-powered committee to review six top environmental laws, headed by former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian, is the sheer audacity of preparing it in just three months. It hardly does justice to the complexity of national and state-level legislation to do this in such indecent haste.

As may be expected, there was hardly any public consultation. Environmentalists could only submit up 130 words on each of the six major laws that were being reviewed. In Bangalore, the committee walked out of a public hearing midway. This negates the arduous work that has gone into drafting these laws and the people’s struggles that have led to such enactments. Green laws are not, as is often thought, a whim on the part of some autocratic leader – Indira Gandhi’s promulgation of the Coastal Regulation Zone legislation being a frequently cited example – but a much-delayed response to flagrant violations on the ground.

Contrary to public perception, the UPA government was by no means the custodian of the nation’s environment. The feisty environment minister Jairam Ramesh was replaced by a more pliant Jayanthi Natarajan who, in turn, made way for Veerappa Moily who cleared virtually anything that came his way. Between 2007 and 2014, power plants with a capacity of 250,000MW were cleared, twice what the Planning Commission estimated was needed by 2022. The Subramanian committee itself admits that 99 per cent of cases were cleared.

As much as the letter of the report, it is the spirit that has to be scrutinised. What was the provocation for reviewing green laws? Minister after NDA minister have made it abundantly clear that the present government views such legislation as an obstacle to economic growth. While there is indeed a case for simplifying laws and procedures, the intent is quite different. The report specifically cites the need to make “doing business easier in the country”.