Wed, 16 Oct, 2019

Dissent brews over coastal plan hearings

resentment over July 7 public hearings ,Several gram sabhas reject proposals

25th June 2019, 02:05 Hrs

the goan I network

PANAJI

Momentum is building up in restive coastal and riverine villages of Goa against a quaint move of the State administration to hold public hearings on July 7 for a nod to Coastal Zone Management Plans prepared under the 2011 CRZ notification well after the sequel legislation -- CRZ Notification 2019 -- was notified in January this year.   

The public hearings are slated to be held a fortnight from now in both North Goa and South Goa districts. The North Goa Collector R Menaka, IAS, has issued notice that the hearing on the CZMP for the district will be held at the Taleigao Community Hall on July 7.   

The same day, her counterpart in South Goa Ajit Roy, IAS, has also notified a hearing for a similar CZMP at the Ravindra Bhavan.   

Residents of some villages which held gram sabhas over the weekend, however, have already rejected the very plans which will be discussed at the July 7 hearings on grounds that these were prepared without taking the local communities who have big stakes in the coastal areas into confidence.   

The Loutolim gram sabha held on Sunday rejected the proposals in the plan pertaining to their village on grounds that it is wide of the mark from what the ground reality is in the village and was prepared by the Chennai-based National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) without consulting the panchayat or anyone in the village.   

Similar sentiments were also aired at gram sabhas held in Cortalim and also at Anjuna in the North Goa district on Sunday.   

 “It seems to be the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle which the government wants to finish and get done to implement its destructive plans for the coast and riverine CRZ areas including our Khazan lands,” said Abhijeet Prabhudesai, adding that the CZMPs under the 2011 CRZ notification should have actually been in place by 2013.   

Prabhudesai, who founded Rainbow Warriors which recently got the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Mopa International Airport scrapped by the Supreme Court, also accused the Chennai-based NCSCM of violating every guideline specifically laid down in the CRZ 2011 notification to prepare such CZMPs, including consulting the local communities.   

The government has put everything in place to go ahead with its massive development plans along the coast, he said, adding that the National Waterways Act permits taking over rivers and khazan lands around them.   

Prabhudesai said, the CZMPs are seemingly pre-determined plans which the administration wants to push through to legitimise its pre-planned coastal development projects under the relaxed norms of the new CRZ 2019 notification.   

According to the CRZ notification of 2011, the CZMPs were to be completed within 24 months of the notification, that is by 2013, by engaging reputed institutions and in consultation with the concerned stakeholders and which involve public consultation. 

The 2011 notification also specifies that the State government submit the draft CZMPs to the MoEF alongwith recommendations after incorporating suggestions and objections received from the stakeholders.   

Meanwhile, the Goencho Ramponkarancho Ekvott (GRE) a representative body of traditional fishing communities along Goa’s coast have also raised objection over the July 7 public hearings and demanded that the draft CZMPs be scrapped.   

GRE said the draft CZMPs do not take the existence of local fishing communities and their rights into account and should be redrawn by taking them into confidence.   

Sources in the government however said, the hearings will take place and those participating in it are free to place all their objections on record during the proceedings. With suspicion growing over the administration’s intent in going ahead with the public hearings, the proceedings at the two venues -- Taleigao Community Hall and Ravindra Bhavan Margao -- will have the managerial skills of the two IAS officers donning the mantle of District Collectors stretched to the limit.