Green Tribunal admits plea challenging CRZ

THE GOAN NETWORK | FEBRUARY 04, 2023, 12:27 AM IST

POINTS OF CONTENTION

*Restrictions imposed in past have been relaxed without any adequate reasoning 

*NDZ along the sea coast reduced to 50 mts from earlier 200 mts

*Developmental activity restricted to only 20 mts from HTL 

*CRZ along rivers is reduced to 50 mts, which was earlier 100 mts 

*Intertidal zone is now no longer in NDZ

*Roads permitted to be built in NDZ and activities permitted on both sides of such roads

*Temporary tourism facilities permitted on beaches in both CRZ-II and CRZ-III at a distance of merely 10 mts from HTL


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PANAJI

The National Green Tribunal has admitted a petition filed by the Goa Foundation and others challenging the Coastal Regulation Zone 2019 and its diluted provisions. 

“We find that the matter requires in depth consideration as we have to compare the amendments which have been brought about in CRZ Notification, 2019 compared to the earlier Notifications and determine how far they are likely to damage the ecology. Therefore, we admit this application,” the NGT western zone bench of Dinesh Kumar Singh and Vijay Kulkarni, said. 

The Goa Foundation had others initially approached the Bombay High Court at Goa, who then directed them towards the National Green Tribunal. 

“Respondents are directed to submit their reply within four weeks providing copies of the same to the other parties in advance,” he added. 

The Goa Foundation in its petition has alleged that the notification has taken some regressive steps in respect of protection of ecology and rights of the fishing communities and is favouring the commercial and intensive organisational activities. 

“The restrictions which were imposed in the past, have been relaxed without any adequate reasoning for the same and would impair sustainable development and ecosystem. The NDZ along the sea coast is reduced to 50 metres from earlier 200 metres, which is unacceptable in view of sea level rise and ingress of sea water into coastal areas,” the petition alleges.  

Among the other issues flagged by the Goa Foundation includes the developmental activity towards the landward side being restricted to only 20 metres from the HTL (High Tide Line), the CRZ along the rivers is also reduced to 50 metres, which was earlier 100 metres from the HTL without any appropriate justification. 

“The NDZ in the impugned Notification is now a nomenclature without any meaning. The intertidal zone is now no longer in NDZ. Roads are permitted to be built in NDZ and activities are permitted on both sides of such roads, which include resorts, hotels and other associated tourism facilities on the landward side of such roads and toilets, changing rooms etc. on the seaward side,” the Goa Foundation has alleged. 

The petition has also alleged that temporary tourism facilities are permitted on the beaches in both CRZ-II and CRZ-III at a distance of merely 10 metres from the HTL, which would include shacks, toilets, washrooms, walkways, seating arrangement etc. 

Eco-tourism activities have been permitted, which would permit setting up of tree huts for tourists. 

Earlier sand dunes were given full protection under the CRZ Notifications (1991 & 2011) but now under impugned Notification, the same protects only ‘active’ sand dunes but the ‘active’ has not been defined as well as tourists are permitted to reside in tents on sand dunes or tree huts in the NDZ, which is sure to lead to destruction of the dunes/ESAs. 

“The impugned notification will bring large populations closer to the sea and would expose it to its impending dangers, with just NDZ of 50 metres only regarding which there is no rationale,” the petition said. 

“There is bound to be large-scale increase in construction of thousands of small and tiny hotels, completely choking the coast. The impugned Notification has done away with the “Hazard Line” (HL) for demarcating ecologically sensitive areas in addition to the Coastal Regulation Zones. 


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