CRZ approvals can be meaningful only when coastal communities are involved in preparing CZMPs

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Submission of comments, objections and clarification by the Centre for Policy Research (CPR)-Namati Environmental Justice Programme on the draft Coastal Zone Plan Management to the member-secretary, Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority, Gujarat government:

This is with reference to the draft CZMP maps that were issued by the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA). We are writing from the Centre for Policy Research, Environmental Justice Program. Our program has its work spread in four coastal districts in Gujarat- of Kachchh, Devbhumi Dwarka, Vapi and Gir Somnath.

The CZMP forms the basis for coastal decision making by recognizing the existing uses and demarcating the CRZ, NDZ and other zones. It is therefore essential to ensure that it is prepared carefully and reflective of the ground realities. The CRZ Notification 2011 was passed with an intent to ensure livelihood security to the fisher communities and other local communities, living in the coastal areas and to conserve and protect coastal stretches, and we hope that these interests are not compromised while preparing the CZMP. We have studied the maps of Kachchh, Devbhumi Dwarka and Gir Somnath and also worked closely with people living in these regions. We would like to bring to your notice, certain procedural violations in conducting the public hearing and factual errors in the draft CZMP maps that we have observed, and we hope that would be considered.

A: Procedural violations during the consultation process for preparing the CZMP

There were several procedural violations that were observed in conducting the public hearings across the Gujarat coast. This was regarding the publication of notice, the time period of notice before the public hearing and change in the public hearing date without any notice.

  1. Clarification regarding whether this is the draft or pre-draft CZMP

The CZMP maps have been referred to ‘pre-draft’ in the maps while they have been referred to as ‘draft’ in the notices for public hearing and the ones inviting for comments and suggestions.

We would like an immediate clarification as to whether these are draft or pre-draft CZMPs.

  1. The draft CZMP maps were prepared without any prior public consultation

No public consultations that were held in the four coastal districts that we are working in- Kachchh, Devbhumi Dwarka, Gir Somnath and Vapi.As per the CRZ Notification 2011, the draft CZMP maps should be prepared involving public consultations.

Para 5 clause (vi) “The coastal States and Union Territory will prepare within a period of twenty four months from the date of issue this notification, draft CZMPs in 1:25,000 scale map identifying and classifying the CRZ areas within the respective territories in accordance with the guidelines given in Annexure-I of the notification, which involve public consultation”.

Further to it being legally mandatory, public consultations while preparing the maps would help in rectifying the errors that can occur while relying only on satellite imagery, with no ground verification being conducted. As evidenced by our previous points it is clear that there are several factual errors in the draft CZMP, these could be avoided if meaningful public consultations are conduced.

  1. The map in its current form is not readable to the local communities

The draft CZMP maps in its current form are not readable to the local communities. There is no summary or explanation that is given in Gujarati. The legend in the map is not translated to Gujarati. Further there are no survey numbers or names of the villages in the maps.

Both our points 2 and 3 draw its essence from the established principles in law, which call for public participation. And for this public participation to be meaningful, it is important that the states raise awareness and encourage participation.

Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration of Environment and Development embodies this and we are giving the relevant part below:

“Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.”

It is pertinent that the CZMPs are prepared with meaningful public participation so that the existing legitimate coastal uses are not left out. Rushing the process of preparing the CZMP would take away the due diligence that is required while conducting such an exercise. Further it takes away an important opportunity of democratic planning.

  1. Regarding notice period of public hearing

As per the Annexure 1 of the CRZ Notification 2011, “Guidelines for preparation of CZMP”,
“a) The draft CZMPs prepared shall be given wide publicity and suggestions and objections received in accordance with the Environment (Protection) Act,(EPA) 1986”
As per the EPA, a 30 day notice period is to be given before any public hearing. This was not followed in some of the public hearings conducted. From our experience we know that it was not followed in Kachchh and Veraval. In Kachchh for example, on 27th July Kachchh Mitra newspaper there was an advertisement about the public hearing to be held on 21st august, 2018. Further, the advertistment by GCZMA and GPCB in the local newspaper, mentioned that the map would be available in the GPCB website but it was not there. The public hearing date and time was not mentioned before 30 days in any of the websites.

  1. Availablility of draft CZMPs in all coastal villages

In the said notice that is attached, it is also mentioned that the pre draft CZMP maps are made available in the Gram Panchayats of certain villages. Coastal villages like Kukadasara, Gohisahama, Jarpara, Dhrub, Tragidi are not mentioned in this list. The draft CZMPs not being made available in these coastal villages takes away an opportunity for the local communities in these places to engage with the consultation process in a meaningful manner.

  1. Frequent change in date of public hearing

In few coastal cities there were changes public hearing date. For example, as per the initial information given on the website, the public hearing for Jamnagar was supposed to be held on 5th September. But the public hearing was postponed to September 26, with no prior notice, and in fact it was known on contacting the authorities on the day of public hearing. The public hearing has in fact been postponed again to 28th October.

B: The draft maps have several factual errors, and are not made in accordance with the guidelines nor have any ground verification been conducted

We have observed several anomalies in the pre-draft CZMP maps, and it has failed to capture several the ground realities. Several important areas have been completely left out from the present pre- draft CZMP maps. The CRZ Notification 2011 clearly states, “all developmental activities listed in the notification shall be regulated within the framework of the approved CZMPs”. Given that the CZMP that is finalized will become the basis for deciding on land use, the permissions given for industrial activities and protections offered to those dependent on the coast for their livelihoods, we strongly believe that the accuracy of the maps are crucial.

Following are few of the points that we have noted while studying the maps. We would like to state that these are only representative of the inaccuracies and is not a comprehensive list. This list is merely indicative of the fact that the present draft maps have been prepared with no ground verification.

  1. Areas of ecological importance missing from the maps:

* Turtle nesting sites of the Olive Ridley and Green sea turtles have not been shown in three 
villages-Modwa,Mandvi, Nanalaijha, Thrakdi in the Kachchh district. The Gujarat Ecological Commission report in 2012 shows these sites in a map (Page no 31) and the details regarding these sites in Page 36 and 37. . Also the turtle nesting site in Okhamandi is not shown in Sheet no NCSCM/F42J4/NW. The above mentioned report has reference to the site in Okhamandi as well.

* Important and officially declared Protected Areas have not been shown in the draft CZMPs. For instance, The Marine National Park, Gulf of Kachchh is not shown in maps of Devbhumi Dwarka.

* Coastal mangrove reserve forests have not been shown in Kachchh in the draft CZMP map. The 1996 CRZ Map, this forest area has been shown. Sheet no-NCSCM/F42J9/SE, NCSCM/F42J9/SW.

All of these fall under CRZ-I areas and as per the guidelines for preparation of CZMP needs to be demarcated.

  1. High Tide Line not accurate
- The High Tide Line (HTL) in Kachchh is not accurate

In some cases the HTL has been taken even 3 km towards the sea ward side. For example compared to the 1996 CRZ map, there is a 3km difference in the HTL in Juna bandhar area. On the one hand, it has been shown by the National Assessment of Shoreline Map in 2012 that 45 percent of the area in Gujarat have been shown as high and medium erosion, and on the other hand the HTL in the draft map are being extended further towards the sea. The HTL has been marked in the saltpan areas in many cases, for example in Sheet no NCSCM/F42J13/NE –Sheet no NCSCM/F42EB/NE. In Sheet no NCSCM/F42J13/SW , Sheet no NCSCM/F42E12/NW, Sheet no NCSCM/F42J13/NE, Sheet no NCSCM/F42J9/SE, Sheet no NCSCM/F42J5/SE, Sheet no NCSCM/F42K1/NW and Sheet no NCSCM/F42E8/NE, it was marked in the salt pan areas.

  1. Salt pans omitted

We have observed that in many of the pre-draft maps, the existing saltpans have been completely omitted. Following are few examples where we noticed that the existing saltpans were not shown -Saltpans in Bhadreshwar in Sheet no NCSCM/F42J13/NE, Chirai in Sheet no NCSCM/F42E8/NE, Goyarsama in Sheet no NCSCM/F42J13/SW, Jungi om Sheet no NCSCM/F42C12/NW, Kuvae and Veera in Sheet no NCSCM/F42J13/NE, Luni in Sheet no NCSCM/F42J13/SW, Thrakadhi in Sheet no NCSCM/F42J5/SE , Tuna in Sheet no NCSCM/F42K/NW, Mundra in Sheet no NCSCM/F42J9/SE, Varsana in Sheet no NCSCM/F42E8/NE are missing.

* Saltpans in the villages of Okhamandi in Sheet no NCSCM/F42J4/NW, Charkala in Devbhumi dwarka in Sheet no NCSCM/F42J3/NW, NCSCM/F42J4/NE. NCSCM/F42J3/SE are also completely missing.

* Saltpans in Jamnagar in Sheet no NCSCM/F42K2/SE, Sheet no NCSCM/F42K/SW are also missing. Failing to demarcate saltpans in the CZMP would have serious implications, as this would leave it open for permissions to be given for other activities in the saltpan area. Existing livelihoods in these areas are left unacknowledged and left out.

  1. Fishing harbor and fish landing areas not shown

Fishing harbor and fishing landing is not shown in many places in the draft CZMP map. For example it is missing in in the following areas:-
Devbhumi Dwarka district:- Okha Bandar ( Sheet no NCSCM/F42J2/SW), Rupen Bander (Sheet no NCSCM/F42I15/SE), Salaya(Sheet no NCSCM/F42J3/NW), Okha port (Sheet no NCSCM/F42J3/NW), Gir Somnath district: Veraval (Sheet no NCSCM/F42W5/NE) , Sarmat (Sheet no NCSCM/F42J15/NW), Sutrapada (Sheet no NCSCM/F42W5/NW) and Mul Dwarka (Sheet no NCSCM/F42W9/SE)

  1. The hazard line is not shown anywhere in the draft CZMP maps.

As per Annexure I, D(ii) 5 of the CRZ Notification, the hazard has to be shown in the CZMP. However it not shown anywhere in the draft CZMP maps. This is important as activities are regulated between the 500m line and the hazard line, and hazard management measures are undertaken here.

The above points show that the present process followed in making the draft CZMP maps are in violation of the CRZ Notification 2011. Further, there are several factual errors and inadequacies in the draft CZMP maps currently. We therefore recommend that:

  • Immediate rectification of the factual errors that were stated
  • An immediate clarification be issued as to whether the CZMP maps put out are draft or pre- 
draft
  • A new draft CZMP map be prepared in consultations with the local communities
  • Ground verification be conducted along with the local communities so that the map is 
reflective of the realities
  • A new round of public hearings be conducted in accordance with the procedure laid down in 
law
  • A local language version of the map be circulated
  • Restriction on CRZ approvals till a meaningful process which involves coastal communities is 
undertaken to prepare CZMPs. This is critical to avoid any conflicts in the future.

We hope that our suggestions would be considered and taken aboard before finalizing the CZMP. We would be willing to meet and discuss these points further.

Signatories: Bharat Patel, Vijay Rathod, Hasmukh Dhumadiya, 
Ker Jayendrasinh, Krithika A Dinesh, and Bharat Dodiya

Slightly abridged. Click HERE to read full submission


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