An integrated coastal zone management plan to strengthen the existing coastal zone legislations under the EPA (Environment Protection Act, 1986) is on the anvil. The Department of Ocean Development (DOD) has recommended that the jurisdiction of the EPA should be extended to the oceans. So far, the EPA covers only areas between the high and low tides. "Because of this, pollution caused directly in the ocean cannot be controlled," points out B N Krishnamurthy, director in DOD.
The natural sedimentation caused by the waste dumped into the seas can lead to the death of sensitive eco-forms such as coral reefs and coastal fauna like the turtles which nest on beaches in Orissa. With traditional uses of the ocean getting diversified into modern developmental and exploratory activities, there is greater scope for ocean-based pollution, says A H Parulekar of the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa.
Seeking to integrate the ocean in the coastal zone regulation rules, DOD has set up an expert committee comprising representatives from all the marine states, various port trusts, the Coast Guard and the Union ministries of environment and forests, surface transport and science and technology. The committee held its first meeting in New Delhi on March 4 to identify the various activities in the ocean which are to be brought under the EPA.
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