Controversial Relaxation Of CRZ Norms Spells Environmental Disaster For Maharashtra's Coastline

Controversial Relaxation Of CRZ Norms Spells Environmental Disaster For Maharashtra's Coastline

The dilution of CRZ norms will obviously spell death knell for whatever mangroves and wetlands that we are left with.

BN KumarUpdated: Saturday, August 26, 2023, 11:31 PM IST
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The latest dilution of CRZ norms for construction along Maharashtra coast in the new Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) is a disastrous move, to say the least. At a time when the world is grappling with the series of serious warnings about rising sea levels, we are allowing more and more construction into the sea. Can anything be more thoughtless than this?

Politicians obviously have a limited vision – to go on overdrive for the so-called development and care two hoots for the environment. But what happened to the IAS officers who are supposed to be the eyes and ears of the government? Have they become such Yes Men and Women that we don’t hear even a whisper against the blatant violation of environmental norms?

Fishermen's benefit or coastal exploitation?

The justification for the reduction of the high tide line to 50m from the existing 100m for limiting (of delimiting, now) construction appears to be the sudden discovered love for the fishing community. Their dilapidated houses can be repaired and they can have logistics such as boat repairs etc. This looks fine, on the face of it. But we, the people who are concerned with nature and the increasing imbalance between development and environment, obviously see the under currents (pun intended) in this madness. There is no guarantee, and there can never be one, that the land (read coastal) sharks will not plunge in and go for building residential complexes and commercialise the places under the name of tourism along the seaside. Show us at least one fisherman who wants to build a high-rise on the coast!

As it is, with the existing CRZ laws, we see massive violations with no authority worth its name checking and with the dilution, we will see a tsunami of ‘vikas’ along the coasts that is bound to cause ‘vinash’.

The dilution of CRZ norms will obviously spell death knell for whatever mangroves and wetlands that we are left with.

Glaring contradiction in official policies

Let me point out one glaring contradiction in the official policies. The state government in its Mumbai Climate Action Plan (M-CAP) highlights the fact that the rising concretisation of Central Mumbai has led to sharp rise in temperatures there. This should be a warning signal for any kind of development.

But the myopic authorities seem to be merrily jumping the red signal and going for creating more concrete jungles in the city and, now, along the coast.

The Kullu-Manali-Shimla tragedies are another series of eye openers for our urban planners. The environmental disaster caused by human greed and official neglect has been repeating year after year and yet we do not seem to learn any lessons on caring for nature. Destruction under the guise of development continues.

The Himalayan tragedy should be seen as another wake-up call for all the states, including Maharashtra, with hills or sea coasts. But unfortunately, thanks to the public apathy and official neglect, we are increasingly getting disconnected with nature instead of being connected.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s calls on various global platforms for environmental protection notwithstanding, the ground reality is that the need for striking an ecological balance with development is being grossly neglected.

Love Nature, it takes care of you; attack it, it will strike back.

(Author, columnist and independent journalist BN Kumar is an FPJ alumnus)

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