Chandy agrees it's a serious issue, but questions LDF stance during its term

The Opposition walked out of the Assembly on Wednesday taking offence over the “casual” manner in which the government responded to a demand for an adjournment motion to discuss the difficulties being experienced by the fishing community following the enforcement of the Coastal Zone Regulations (CRZ).

Giving notice to the adjournment motion, S. Sarma of the CPI(M) said the CRZ had turned out to be a law violating the basic human rights of a very large number of fishing families living along the coastal areas of the country.

Mr. Sarma said even to build little houses under government schemes, the fishing folk could not get building permits because of the CRZ.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said it was indeed a serious issue. While conservation of nature was a matter of big importance, the impracticability of the laws put in place for the purpose too could not be ignored.

“Impractical things [clauses in the CRZ that prohibit fishing folk from having their homes built close to the sea and backwaters] should have to be changed,” he said.

Poser to Sarma

Mr. Chandy then asked Mr. Sarma, who had functioned as the Fisheries Minister in the previous government led by the Left Democratic Front (LDF), whether he could claim the LDF government had properly utilised the opportunity that was there to correct some of the impractical clauses in the CRZ notification issued by the Centre in January 2011.

Prior to notifying the amended rules with respect to the CRZ, the Centre had published the draft of the notification in September, 2010, inviting comments from all stakeholders.

“I am speaking authoritatively —you did not give the Centre the State government’s views,” Mr. Chandy said adding that it was up to him, as the then Leader of the Opposition, to present a representation to the Centre which helped lighten a couple of stipulations in the draft notification.

Mr. Sarma disputed the charge and said he had personally met Defence Minister A.K. Antony to present the concerns of the fishermen of the State, but to no avail. Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan said the Opposition did not expect the Chief Minister to blame the previous State government for the CRZ that was put in place by the Union government led by the Congress party.

Mr. Achuthanandan announced the walkout accusing the Chief Minister of being “casual and insensitive” whenever the Opposition raised serious issues impinging upon the lives of large sections of the people.

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