Maharashtra scraps jetty project to protect turtle nesting beach in Ratnagiri

According to the minutes, the construction of the jetty was completed in 2013-14 without CRZ clearances, and the harbour engineer sought post-facto CRZ approval
The Guhagar beach is an Olive Ridley turtle breeding area.(Sourced)
The Guhagar beach is an Olive Ridley turtle breeding area.(Sourced)
Published on Dec 08, 2020 04:06 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By

The Maharashtra government has scrapped a jetty project to ensure a turtle breeding ground along the Konkan coast remains protected.

The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) under the state environment department rejected coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance for the passenger jetty project proposed by the state public works department (PWD) at Guhagar beach in Ratnagiri district.

The decision was taken during the last (148th) coastal authority meeting, the minutes of which were published recently. According to the minutes, the construction of the jetty, located in CRZ1B (ecologically sensitive areas where construction is not allowed) was completed in 2013-14 without CRZ clearances, and the harbour engineer (Dapoli) PWD sought post-facto CRZ approval (granting clearance once the project has commenced or completed) for providing armour layer on both sides of the jetty, lightning, and seating arrangement work. The jetty, already opposed by local residents, is located less than 100 metres from a turtle hatchery. “After detailed discussion and deliberation, post factor CRZ approval could not be granted as per provisions of the CRZ 2011 notification. Thus, the application is rejected,” the minutes concluded.

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Manisha Mhaiskar, principal secretary, state environment department, said, “We rejected the proposal for a passenger jetty and allied facilities at Guhagar beach as it is an Olive Ridley turtle breeding area. The sandy Guhagar beach is home to some of the highest number of Olive Ridley turtle nests along Maharashtra, and it is our responsibility to ensure their habitat is protected from any threat, including tourist footfall.”

Guhagar is also one of eight beaches included in the state’s proposal to set up beach shacks (maximum of 10 shacks of the permitted size of 15ftx15ft with a 20ftx15ft shade in front of them) across four coastal districts in Maharashtra. The state cabinet had given its nod for the proposal on June 25.

According to the Maharashtra forest department, approximately 600 Olive Ridley turtles find their way to nesting sites across prominent beaches in Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and Raigad districts of Maharashtra. At Guhagar, the department recorded 40 nests in 2019 and 36 nests in 2020. These endangered sea turtle species, found in warm tropical waters, travel thousands of kilometres into the ocean and only the females return to the original breeding sites within a minimum of two years. For 2019-20, Maharashtra recorded a hatchling survival rate of 44%.

Mhaiskar added that different state departments were working together to study and understand more about these species. “We want to improve the survival rate of turtle hatchlings along Maharashtra,” said Mhaiskar.

Meanwhile, this is the second time in concurrent MCZMA meetings when proposals have come up for a jetty at Guhagar. During the 147th meeting, the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) had proposed a passenger jetty but the project was deferred by the coastal authority.

Sourced (An Olive Ridley hatchling.)
Sourced (An Olive Ridley hatchling.)

“The jetty was being built for tourism purposes. We are looking for alternate sites now where we will not face any CRZ-related challenges,” said a state PWD official.

Ratnagiri resident Balvant Parchure had moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2017, challenging the project. After hearing the matter over three years, NGT in April had termed the project a CRZ violation as there were no prior clearances and directed the coastal authority to take action in the matter. MCZMA had then directed the Ratnagiri collector to demolish the jetty. While parts of the jetty were being demolished, the PWD requested NGT in September to allow reconstruction citing an application for post factor clearance to MCZMA.

Jetty connecting mangrove park at dahisar issued crz clearance

Another decision taken during MCZMA’s meet included the approval of a 37m-long and 5m-wide jetty project at Dahisar in Mumbai to a proposed mangrove park. The project was proposed by Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) to facilitate quick transportation for tourists through the waterway and dense mangrove cover. MCZMA issued CRZ clearance and recommended the proposal to the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority subject to clearance from the Bombay high court as the project site is less than 50 m from mangroves. “The creation of the mangrove park at Dahisar and Gorai would help spread awareness about the mangrove ecosystem among people. This will help conservation and protection of mangroves,” the MCZMA minutes said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

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