The Tamil Nadu fisheries department began construction of two fish landing centres (FLC) at the environmentally sensitive Pulicat Lake Sanctuary without getting proper clearances, violating the Wild Life Protection Act, a CAG report has found.
Pulicat Lake is the second largest brackish water lagoon in India and is spread over Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, attracting winter migratory birds and acquatic and terrestrial birds like flamingos, painted storks, egrets, among others.
The report also said the work was stopped midway after the Forest Department objected to the construction without clearances from the National Board for Wild Life (NBWL), leading to blocking of funds to the tune of Rs. 2.07 crore which was spent till the work was suspended.
The Centre, in 2006, accorded sanction to the Tamil Nadu government for construction of 10 fish landing centres under the Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme. The state was also instructed to get necessary statutory clearances before starting the project.
“Scrutiny of records revealed that, though clearances were required to be obtained for Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) from the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) and from the standing committee of the NBWL, the fisheries department applied in November 2009 for CRZ clearance only and no proposals was submitted to NBWL (June 2014),” the report said.
The audit said the Wild Life Warden, Chennai, advised the department not to execute the work as it would tantamount to violation of the Forest Conservation Act. “Despite this, the department awarded in October 2010 and February 2011, the work for two FLC’s at Pulicat Lake to the contractors for Rs. 8.86 crore and the sites were handed over in January 2011 and June 2011,” the audit said. Following the objection from the Forest Department, the work was stopped.
However, in June 2014, the government replied that the work was taken up only after getting the necessary clearance from the MoEF. “The instructions from the Wild Life Warden, Chennai, for obtaining statutory clearances from NBWL, were received after the commencement of work.
The government also stated that the works would be resumed after obtaining approval from thee State and National Boards for Wild Life,” it said.
The Centre, in 2006, accorded sanction to the Tamil Nadu government for construction of 10 fish landing centres under the Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme