Chennai – 3rd December 2018
Much to the dismay of fisherfolk and coastal residents, Department of Environment, Government of Tamilnadu on 30/11/2018 released incomplete and illegal maps purporting to be the 2018 approved Coastal Zone Management Plan for Tamilnadu State. Drafts of these maps that were released for public consultation in February 2018 faced stiff opposition on grounds that they were incomplete and violated the guidelines of the CRZ Notification 2011.
The maps have failed to incorporate important features like 1) Land Use of local fishing communities 2) Long Term Housing plan for fisherfolk 3) Fishing zones and fish breeding areas 4) Violations 5) High Water Line and Low Water Line and 6) A written document containing a management plan and justification of deviation from the earlier approved plan.
Vigilant fisherfolk ensured that more than 11,000 acres of coastal wetlands were brought under the CRZ by conducting simple ground truthing exercises. “Public ground truthing efforts forced the Central Government’s authorized agency to re-draw the coastal setback lines in many places like Kanniyakumari, Ramanathapuram, Nagapattinam and Villupuram Districts” said K Saravanan from Urur Kuppam fishing village in Chennai.
The significance of good coastal planning is all the more evident in the backdrop of Cyclone Gaja that devastated the southern coastal districts of Tamilnadu in November 2018. In what is considered the worst natural disaster since the 2004 Tsunami, the mega-cyclone inundated low-lying areas in Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Pudukottai districts in Tamilnadu, leaving more than 3.7 lakh people homeless. Material damages were reported form approximately 333 fishing villages. In addition to damage to coastal areas, storm surges higher than 1m moved inland through estuaries affecting more than 32,000 Ha of paddy inlands.
Ironically, Government of India diluted CRZ norms to withdraw protection to areas such as those affected by Cyclone Gaja by relaxing development norms in the region between the High Tide Line and the Hazard Line. The hazard line is a line drawn on land to mark the extent to which the impact of the sea through waves, wind, storm surges and sea level rise can be felt.
“The Coastal Zone Management Plan is the roadmap for how our coastal areas are going to be managed. Protecting fisher livelihoods and putting in place a long-term housing plan for the coastal communities must be made a priority for the government. We will intensify our struggle to secure a complete, effective coastal plan to safeguard our collective futures” Says K. Bharathi of the South Indian Fisher Welfare Federation.
The Approved Coastal Zone Management Plans can be accessed here – http://www.environment.tn.nic.in/appdczmp.html
For More Information, Contact : Saravanan K, Urur Kuppam – 9176331717