Coastal body’s nod needed to set up facilities on city’s beaches, says NGT

Published - May 22, 2024 01:12 am IST - Chennai

The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) to get approval from the Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority (TNSCZMA) before carrying out any activity on the city’s beaches, besides cleaning and removing encroachments.

The Bench, comprising Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and expert member Satyagopal Korlapati on Tuesday issued the order in a suo motu case on development activities in Injambakkam beach based on a news report published in The Hindu.

As part of its ₹100-crore Chennai Shoreline Renourishment and Revitalization Project, the CMDA had planned for ‘integrated coastal community development’ in Kasimedu, Tiruvottiyur, and Injambakkam-Akkarai stretches involving facilities such as a prefab building, cycle track, food court, landscape, open air theatre, open parking, pedestrian walkway, and a play area in Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) II areas, where such activities are prohibited.

The TNSCZMA, in a meeting on March 4, recommended the project for Blue Flag certification — an internationally recognised eco-label for beaches — in consultation with the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management. This move removed the need for CRZ clearances as a 2020 order from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) stated that prior clearances were not necessary for facilities that were set up for the certification.

Delivering the verdict in the case, the Bench said that CMDA could not continue with the project without the MoEFCC approval. Referring to the 2020 order, the Bench said it was clear that the Blue Flag Certification can be obtained only in “identified beaches” and no beaches between Kasimedu and Akkarai were identified by the MoEFCC for the purpose of the certification.

“Unless and otherwise the Project Proponent gets the coastline for which it aims at getting the Blue Flag Certification, identified by the appropriate authority, it may not be possible for it to do any kind of activity,” the Bench said, ordering the CMDA to get the TNSCZMA approval.

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