The Bombay High Court in a recent interim order to the state revenue department and the collector of Raigad,has asked them to put a stop to encroachments on a beach at Nandgaon,Alibaug.
Responding to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG),the court took immediate cognizance of violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms on the beach.
The PIL had sought the courts direction to the state as well as the Union Government to protect the beach and shoreline at Nandgaon. BEAG named the state environment and revenue department,the collector of Raigad,tahsildar of Murud,the sub-divisional officer of Alibaug,the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest and the Maharashtra Coastal Management Authority as respondents.
In its order,the court upheld the polluter pays principle in environmental law. The principle states that the party carrying on a polluting or environmentally non-benign activity must pay for the damage done to the environment. While BEAG is unaware as to who were behind the activities leading to the flouting of norms,the court has given the state and the Raigad collector the responsibility of preventing the activity and taking action against those responsible.
The PIL informed about the construction of an illegal road which,it appears,is about to be built on the beach itself; and for largescale illegal sand mining. It stated that both the activities violated the CRZ notification of 1991.
The petition also pointed out that Alibaug falls within the CRZ III and the construction on the beach was in a CRZ area,between the high tide line (HTL) and the low tide line (LTL).
Recently we visited the site and took photographs of construction of a road there. The work is clearly illegal, stated Dr Sayed Nudrat Zawar,a senior conservation officer of the Conservation Action Trust,an offshoot of BEAG.
CRZ notification classifies coastal areas: The CRZ-I areas are (i) those that are ecologically sensitive and (ii) the area between the HTL and the LTL.
CRZ-III areas are those that are relatively undisturbed and those which do not belong to either Category-I or II (the latter being already developed areas). CRZ III areas include coastal zones in rural areas (developed and undeveloped) and areas within municipal limits or in other legally designated urban areas which are not substantially built up.
What is CRZ ?
The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification,issued by the Ministry of Environment & Forests on February 19,1991,under the provisions of the Environment Protection Act seeks to protect the ecology and environment of Indias coastline. It states that the area (i) within 500 metres of the High Tide Line (HTL),and (ii) the area between the HTL and the Low Tide Line (LTL) is a Coastal Regulation Zone. Restrictions are imposed on development activities in CRZ. The HTL is the line to which the highest of the spring or neap tides,reach.