Prepare draft maps before giving construction nod in coastal zones, tribunal tells Maharashtra

While hearing an application filed by NGO Vanashakti, National Green Tribunal has directed state to turn down proposals in Thane, Palghar until maps are ready

mumbai Updated: Nov 03, 2017 10:45 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Publish draft maps of coastal areas first, the tribunal has instructed the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority. (HT File)

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) pulled up the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) on Thursday for failing to publish draft Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) maps for Thane and Palghar. The maps are required to verity that there is no construction in coastal areas that are supposed to remain free of development for ecological and safety reasons. Areas classified as Coastal Regulation Zone -lll cannot be subjected to any sort of construction.

The NGT western division bench of Justice UD Salvi, judicial member, and Dr Nagin Nanda, expert member directed the MCZMA to turn down proposal in Thane and Palghar districts, where maximum coastal zone regulation (CRZ) violations have taken place. The bench said this needs to be followed until the draft maps were published on its website. The next hearing in the matter has been scheduled for November 15.

The tribune was hearing an application filed by NGO Vanashakti in 2013, in which it alleged that the state’s coastline was being destroyed as the Union environment ministry was repeatedly giving extensions to the Maharashtra government to finalise the CZMP maps without checking the number of proposals being cleared and its impact on coastal areas.

“We appraised the bench about the delay in preparing the CZMP maps by MCZMA time and again, which were supposed to be out by the end of 2013. We also told the bench that maximum CRZ violations were being reported from Thane and it is a serious problem,” said Zaman Ali, counsel for Vanashakti. “The bench seemed furious with the delay and ensured that the next hearing was scheduled when the MCZMA member secretary would be present in person.”

On February 10, 2016, the NGT had issued a similar directing the MCZMA to not consider any proposals until they prepared draft CZMP maps for all coastal districts in Maharashtra. Soon after, MCZMA challenged the order by approaching the Bombay high court (HC). In July 2016, the HC stayed NGT’s interim order and gave MCZMA three months’ time to prepare the maps (October 2016).

In October 2016, MCZMA developed draft CZMP maps for Mumbai, Ratnagiri and Raigad districts but failed to develop the same for Sindhudurg and Thane. In January, they filed a civil application asking for more time to prepare the maps. “After a lot of to-and-fro, in June this year, MCZMA told the HC that they had developed the draft map for Sindhudurg but needed more time for Thane and Palghar. The HC bench issued a deadline of September 30, which they could not meet,” said Ali.

MCZMA officials told HT that there was a payment issue with various civic bodies of these districts. “Municipal corporations of Thane, Vasai, Virar, Panvel, Palghar and Navi Mumbai are have not submitted the funds for the development of these draft maps. While some of the corporations recently paid the amount, some are still yet to. However, we are in the process of developing them and it should take a couple of months. We will be submitting the same to the tribunal,” said a senior MCZMA official.

The applicants welcomed the tribunal’s order. “The coastal zone management authority has colluded with the people who wanted to destroy the coastline and deliberately delayed publishing these draft maps,” said Stalin D, director, Vanashakti.

First Published: Nov 03, 2017 10:45 IST