DIGHA, 23 JUNE: The National Coastal Protection Campaign (NCPC), a conglomeration of fishworker groups including the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF), and environmental groups have jointly rejected the ministry of environment’s ‘pre-draft’ Coastal Regulation Zone 2010 notification calling it anti-people, anti-environment and pro-industry.
The fishworkers’ forum said that most of the concerns and issues raised during the public consultation process undertaken by the Union minister, Mr Jairam Ramesh, between August 2009 and March 2010 have been ignored in the ‘pre-draft’, despite assurances from the Minister that these would be taken on board.
Many of the recommendations contained in the “Final Frontier Report”, submitted by the Dr MS Swaminathan committee in 2009, have been completely ignored. On the issue of port development, the Swaminathan committee had recommended a moratorium on new ports until their cumulative impacts were studied. However, the pre-draft makes no effort to control the growth of ports through a zoning system that keeps port developments at least 25 kms away from the most critical habitats (CRZ 1 areas).
Mr Bakul Kumar Bar, president, Dakhsinbanga Matsyajibi Forum (DMF) said: “The fragile coastline of the state is threatened by a variety of development projects including the proposed nuclear power plant at Haripur, a chemical industry hub in Nayachar and the special tourism zones in Mandarmoni and Bakkhali, while the proposed deep sea port at Sagar Island will negatively impact the Sundarban eco-system.”
There are currently over 300 ports proposed along the coast of mainland India, of which over 200 are notified. Besides its own impact, port development is invariably accompanied by other industries, power plants, railway lines, highways, hotels, SEZs, residential complexes, etc. that can have multiple detrimental impacts on the coast.
“There has been a consistent demand to recognise the rights of fishing communities in management and protection of the coasts. This requires a fundamental shift from providing concessions to recognising the rights of fishing communities” said Mr Matanhy Saldanha, chairperson, National Fishworkers Forum.
The draft had first come out in 1991 but was rejected after widespread protests. There have been 21 amendments in the last 19 years. “There is Bio-medical Waste Act and Municipal Waste Act. E-Waste Act is underway. But Coastal regulation remained a draft in the last 19 years. Encroachments interfere in the lives of the fishermen and they want to keep the coast clean for their own use,” said Mr Pradip Chatterjee, secretary, National Fishworkers’ Forum.