Why all these are not applicable to Tuticorin port or the one planned in AP or WB ?
What an eye opener! As an environmental engineer,disposal of sanitary napkins has always been a concern during waste...
Gap's contentions are quite ridiculous, to say the least. Good to know that GTG is going to fight the case! More power to such...
Violators make hay, regulators don't shine
Nauxi is a small village, close to the capital city of Panaji. People here are angry. They say the hill adjoining their homes is being
flattened. A builder has acquired the land and is constructing holiday homes, whose buyers are rumoured to be the most glamorous
faces of the country. How did the builder get the land? It gets murky hereafter, but it seems names of tenants were deleted in the
survey records. Powerful landlords and the local administration have apparently connived. But clearly, villagers were not consulted.
In a related case, a resident of village Orda in Candolim woke to find his house on fire. The miscreants were suspected to be those
behind the cutting of hills around. The resident was targeted because he was fighting against this devastation.
Again a land deal is signed by a hotel company to buy 100 ha of rich forest at Tanxi-Loliem, reports the daily Herald. Some
portions belongs to the comunidade of Loliem or is forest land. Nobody knows.
But local people who sold their land reportedly made big money. The paper quotes one young seller, "many people who sold their
ancestral property ages ago and settled abroad are now telling us--when they visit on vacation--that we should protect Goa." But how
was forest land acquired? The forest department, the paper says, is mum.
Such stories are legion. Over years, laws have changed to protect the environment; the economy has changed to utilise it. Loopholes in
law and lack of clarity in what is allowed, or not, allow blatant misuse and illegality. All land is available to the highest bidder
community-owned, private land and even church land. In short, Goa is under the hammer (see box The Claremont
The fact is Goa is extraordinarily beautiful only due to its ecology. It is bordered by beaches on one side, forests on the other. The
middle is lush--orchards and rice fields. Village and town settlements flow into this landscape. The beauty exists because regulations
conserve it; developers now consider these regulations the state's bane.
Goa has a 105-km-long coastline dotted with mangrove swamps, rocky inter-tidal stretches, estuaries and sandy beaches. Prized land.
Real estate companies advertise that they will provide an "exclusive" beach. Laws restrict development; they maintain some traditional rights of fishermen and keep the coastline for common (not exclusive) use. The current game plan is to weaken the laws that protect the coastline against development, and restrict rights of traditional owners--fishermen or toddy tappers--from using this paradise.
The crz Notification of 1991, which prohibits, restricts and regulates activities within 500 metres of the high
tide line, requires governments to demarcate the high and low tide line across the coast. In 1996, the Supreme Court, in a case on the
non-implementation of the crz notification, directed all coastal state governments to prepare coastal zone
management plans within three months. These hurriedly prepared 'plans' were approved by the Union ministry of environment and forests
(moef) in September 1996. The work to demarcate the
class='UCASE'>crzarea across the country was given to seven different agencies. It is still on. Each state must set up a Coastal
Zone management Authority, responsible for enforcement and monitoring violations. Different levels of protection exist for different
categories of the zone (see box Coasting on unclarity).
The management challenge is enormous.
It requires governments to demarcate the high tide line and the different zones and then
administer the zones based on different realities as exist across the country. There are also ambiguities--what is a developed area or a
substantially developed area? Where is a road already proposed, but not built, where existing structures are allowed to build more, but
what was the existing already?
The notification rests on demarcating the high tide zone but this is where science suffers policy. According to the 2005 report of the M
S Swaminathan committee, set up to review the crz notification, the definition of high tide line has led to
confusion among different agencies authorised to draw this boundary. Each agency uses a different methodology for demarcation,
leading to variations in the lines that define a zone. There is no clarity regarding the scale of demarcation; most high tide maps, being
classified, are not accessible.
All this means a case made in heaven for violators. On paper, nothing is allowed; in practice, everything is permitted. So Goa buzzes
with rumours about crz violations by high profile hotels. The global chain Marriott is often indicted, not only
because it has the most spectacular cocktail lounge views in the state (see boxThe Marriott's sea lounge), but because
class='UCASE'>crzrules confound even its most ardent supporters. It is not clear what the legalities of this and many other
cases are. But in the absence of meticulous conditions allowing development, and no credible public processes to oversee such growth,
the perception is that the powerful get away. This makes enforcement difficult and even more contested.
For instance, crz regulations allow for restricted development of traditional dwellings even in the
class='UCASE'>crz-II zone, earmarked for rural and traditional use. On the one hand, this boosts local level corruption, via
permissions for repair, renovation and additions to existing structures. Residents point to entire hotels coming up in the name of
Worse, it is fuelling a take-over of traditional land. The logic of the up-to-200 metre no development zone in rural areas--
class='UCASE'>crz-ii--was to provide space for fishermen to berth their boats, dry fish and mend nets. This protected their
rights. In the remaining zone, development was to facilitate their settlements and their livelihoods. But now, this is where real estate,
hotels and resorts find the loophole of a lifetime. Large areas are purportedly acquired by developers, then turned into five-star resorts.
Gradually, the traditional users find themselves marginalised and excluded, even from the use of their own common beach land. Goa
newspapers discuss how beaches are being 'privatised'--by strong arm tactics, where locals are simply told off.
class='UCASE'>crzviolations include privately owned holiday homes, resorts and unauthorised extensions to homes of local
residents. When revealed in mid-2006, the deputy minister said publicly, "the government is very serious and will punish the violators".
Little is reported since then.
In 1996, the state cleared its coastal zone management plan with the
class='UCASE'>moef. This plan identifies the settlement areas as they existed then. But the areas
were never demarcated on maps and never made public.In the Regional Plan 2011, the settlement area has been increased, effectively
changing, alleges the Goa Bachao Abhiyan , the zoning of the crz areas, bringing more area from
crz iii to crz ii from
'traditional use' and 'no development' to 'settlement area'.
Goa's ecology is not just beaches, but also its tidal rivers, mangroves and marshes. This land is even more difficult to demarcate as it is
not land but water and requires careful zoning. In the regional plan, say activists, development has been permitted in such ecologically
sensitive areas. In its defense, government says the plan is indicative and if any land is classified under crz,
it will not be developed.
Goa's developers also dislike forest regulations. Goa is doubly blessed with forests. Roughly 62 per cent of its geographical area is
covered with forest and tree cover. But crucially, only 33 per cent of this is recorded forest area, that is, under forest department
control. The rest--roughly 210,000 ha--is forest land but not under government control. This land is not under the jurisdiction of the
Forest Conservation Act of 1980, but its use is guided by Supreme Court fiat. In the mid-1990s, the court re-defined the area under
forests, as defined under the dictionary, as 'land under trees'. Such land, though outside the forest department's reach, then came
under the ambit of conservation regulations.
The issue becomes tricky as a result. Project clearances require government to determine what land is 'forested' and what is not. The
state government set up a committee, headed by S M Sawant, to do that. But till date, according to forest department officials, only 15
per cent of the survey work is completed. Government says the work will be completed soon. What is baffling is that the state does not
even have records of area leased for mining--a key economic activity in its forests. It only says that "mines in Goa, in most cases, are
covered under forest lands".
Again, a complete lack of clarity about land use. Again, a case made in heaven for violators. This has led to a rush of "illegal" and
"disputed" projects on forest lands. Developers convince people to cut and hand over the land under trees, to cut down hills that have
trees or burn the trees, so that there are no forests ergo, no dispute.
The regional plan has included forested areas--evident from satellite imagery or existing land use maps--for settlements. Government
says it did this because, during plan finalisation, the forest department could not give maps indicating the area earmarked as private
forest. It could only give maps of wildlife sanctuaries and forest cover, saying work on a consolidated forest map of the state--including
private and public forests--was under preparation. The state in its affidavit to court says "it was not possible to await the final report of
demarcation as it would severely affect the expedition of the finalisation of the regional plan". It also refused to take cognisance of the
satellite maps showing forest cover. As a result, the land use of existing forested land can be changed with a stroke of a pen. It is
literally up for grabs.
Many would argue Goa remains caught in a time-warp. Nothing explains this better than the comunidade system. A traditional system of
village administration, it was adopted under Portuguese rule. Some say this system began when Saraswat Brahmins migrated to Goa in
the 5th century. The Portuguese codified all the laws affecting village communities into the Codigo Das Comunidades.
Environmentalists like Claude Alvares explain the importance of this system for the land-use pattern of the state. Under this system, all
village land resided in the comunidade, which in turn auctioned private owners temporary rights of usage. The comunidade also invested
a reported quarter of its earnings into development works lining paddy fields, watercourses, installing sluice gates and planting
Over time, the system has been dismantled. Today, in Goa, the 'modern' institution of local
self-governance, the panchayat, has been created in every village, which now exists in addition to the comunidade. The bulk
of the land is under private ownership. Jagdish Nazareth, a Goan, writes in the book Fish Curry and Rice, "even today, 232 village
comunidades own 30,000 ha of land--8 per cent of Goa's land mass." The issue is about their rights. The code grants them absolute
rights over the land. But now that things have changed, what remains? Many comunidade land scams are reported. A similar case is
festering with the sale of land owned by the church--a large and wealthy land-owner (see box Land is holy).
Language and its interpretation makes life more difficult. "The present code is still in Portuguese. However, an unauthenticated so-called
English translation is being circulated by some persons and the same copy is also circulated by the state government's revenue
department. The state has made use of the same illegal English version to carry out amendments," says Andre Pereira, an advocate as
well as the secretary of the Association of Components of Comunidade. Whatever the language, the land comunidades hold is valuable.
Developers want a slice of it. With the institution in decline (or dead, as many say), who will take the decisions to sell or not to sell?