At a mandatory public hearing on Gujarat's Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) in Dholera town on August 7, 2018, jointly held by the Gujarat Ecology Commission, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board and the forests and environment department, several activists and stakeholders protested against the plan prepared by the state government. According to them, the maps used to prepare the CZMP date back to 2011 and, therefore, do not reflect the ground reality. They have demanded another hearing.
A CZMP involves managing coastal areas to balance environmental and economic activities. The objective of the plan is to ensure that coastal communities are equipped to better address continued economic development of the coastal zones while accounting for natural resource management in the wake of climate change. The exercise is considered crucial for the safety of coastal zones as it can highlight important issues, such as erosion of and damage to coastal areas over the years as well as reflect the livelihoods of people dependent on coastal resources.
The Gujarat government had prepared the CZMP on the basis of the order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in November 2017. The order mandated all states to submit their CZMP to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) by April 30, 2018. On the other hand, the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification of 2011 had a clear clause stipulating that the maps of the coastal zones need to be prepared within 24 months. The Gujarat government did not prepare the maps for more than five years.
At the hearing, residents of Bhavnagar district, as well as environmental activists issued a press release, alleging that the government is now rushing to complete the process belatedly without giving accurate information. For example, legal and illegal prawn farms are missing, and the map marks certain villages that have been washed away and no longer exist. Moreover, despite the guidelines, the documents and maps have not been prepared in the local language.
At least 23 projects, worth Rs.50,000 crore, are held up due to the Gujarat governments failure to submit the CZMP on time.
Rajiv Gupta, additional chief secretary, state forest and environment department, had announced that the CZMP would be finalized and submitted to MoEFCC by October 31, 2018. But the state missed the deadline.
According to Paryavaran Mitra, an Ahmedabadbased NGO, the CRZ law has not been implemented in letter and spirit in the state despite being enacted in 1991.