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Maharashtra to seek extension of deadline to submit coastal maps’ draft to MoEF

These maps indicate the high tide line and hazard line, and also demarcate coastal regulation zone (CRZ) areas.

mumbai Updated: Apr 14, 2018 23:37 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
mumbai news,coastal roads,MCZMA
These maps have great significance for Mumbai, where builders have been rampaging through CRZ areas, and on the flipside the state has passed notifications relaxing CRZ norms for ease of business. (HT File)

Upholding an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) principal bench from November 2017, the Apex Court passed an order earlier this week that the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has been asked to prepare the final draft of the coastal zone maps by April 30.

However, the MCZMA chief and additional chief secretary, state environment department, Satish Gavai said that they will ask the SC for more time to submit the draft maps, as maps from three districts are yet to be finalised.

These maps indicate the high tide line and hazard line, and also demarcate coastal regulation zone (CRZ) areas. This has great significance for Mumbai, where builders have been rampaging through CRZ areas, and on the flipside the state has passed notifications relaxing CRZ norms for ease of business.

On November 22, 2017, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Delhi passed an order directing all coastal states to submit draft of the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) maps by April 30 and further directed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to develop the final maps by July 31.

“In the event any state government or union territory do not submit the said plan, they shall be liable for exemplary costs of Rs5 lakh, which should be recovered from the salary of the defaulting officer. Non-compliance would invite action for violating orders of the tribunal,” read the order passed by the NGT bench.

Upholding the same order while hearing a special leave petition (SPL) filed by NGO Vanashakti at the Apex Court, the SC bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Rohintan Fali Nariman passed an order on Wednesday, which was made public on Saturday, read, “It has been pointed out at the Bar that the CZMP is being submitted by April 30 as recorded by NGT in its order. In view of the above, no further order is necessary for these petitions which are hereby disposed of.”

Gavai said the draft of CZMP maps for Raigad, Ratnagiri, and Mumbai were ready, but maps for Sindhudurg, Thane and Palghar will take time, beyond April 30.

“We will be sending the final draft CZMP for Mumbai to the union environment ministry by next week, making us the first such state to submit any CZMP map. While for Ratnagiri and Raigad CZMPs, we have received suggestions and objections, and final process is underway, the remaining maps have been sent to an institute in Kerala for modifications. This process will take time to be completed,” Gavai said.

“We will have to ask for more time from the courts.”

In November last year, the NGT western bench in Pune had told MCZMA not to clear any coastal regulation zone (CRZ) projects until CZMP maps were ready.

“We are following this order and no clearances or meetings have been held until these draft maps are sent,” said Gavai.

The counsel for Vanashakti said there had been a delay of over five years.

“The draft maps were supposed to be out by the end of 2013. Maximum CRZ violations are being reported from Thane and Palghar, which is a serious problem,” said Zaman Ali, counsel for Vanashakti.

Meanwhile, the petitioner said if CZMPs were not submitted soon, the risk to human life and property in CRZ areas continues to be high.

“All actions of the state machinery are aimed at diluting the CRZ to help builders. We have won this battle as of now as the state is on the backfoot. We are committed to protecting coastal zones and keeping them free from construction for the benefit of the larger population, to protect the integrity of our coastline,” said Stalin D, director, NGO Vanashakti.

First Published: Apr 14, 2018 23:35 IST