Amid criticism, Goa govt withdraws error-prone coastal management draft plan

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Panaji, June 28 (IANS) The BJP-led coalition government on Friday temporarily withdrew a controversial draft Goa Coastal Zone Management plan, even as legislators across party lines cited deficiencies and errors in the document, which when finalised would form the legal basis for regulation of development in eco-sensitive coastal areas.

Goa Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral’s decisions to temporarily withdraw the controversial draft plan in order to rework it and postpone the public consultation meeting, which was due to be held on July 7, are being seen by the Congress as a victory of the people against a draconian land regulation plan.

Earlier today, at a presentation made by scientists of the Chennai-based National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, a central government agency which drafted the plan, MLAs from across party lines chided the scientists, blaming them for leaving loopholes in the document.

“If we MLAs are not convinced, how can the people of Goa be convinced at the public consultation meeting? We have asked the scientists of the Centre to rework the plan and bring it to the government again,” Cabral told reporters, after the presentation at the state secretariat.

The Environment Minister also said, that there were several discrepancies in the plan, the key one being the unclear demarcation of the High Tide Line, which is a key criteria when it comes to defining to zoning in eco-sensitive coastal areas, which are governed by Coastal Zone Regulation norms.

Earlier today, BJP MLA and Deputy Speaker in the state legislative assembly Michael Lobo also said, that provisions must be made in the draft plan to allow locals, especially fishermen and toddy tappers living in the Coastal Regulation Zone-governed areas to conduct commercial activities.

“The current draft plan has to accommodate members of these two communities who live in CRZ areas. They cannot even renovate their houses because of the strict laws. They should be allowed to conduct commercial activity,” Lobo told reporters.

Welcoming the state government’s decision, state Congress president Girish Chodankar, shortly before he put in his resignation late on Friday evening, said a comprehensive plan must now be put together by taking all stakeholders, which include coastal dwellers into confidence.



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