Opposition UDF stages walkout in Kerala Assembly over LDF Government’s ‘failure’ to prepare coastal zone management plan

Kerala Legislative Assembly.   | Photo Credit: S. GOPAKUMAR

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition walked out of the Kerala Assembly on Tuesday to spotlight the Government's “failure” to submit a coastal zone management plan (CZMP) for approval from the Centre.

Seeking the leave of the House to move an adjournment motion on the subject, Congress legislator K. Babu said thousands of houses abutting sea, lake or river in Kerala did not qualify for panchayat or municipal registration because of the State's inordinate delay in finalising the CZMP as mandated by the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) provisions.

The "apathy" had cost coastal dwellers dear. A majority of the "victims" are traditional fishers. With no house numbers, a bulk of the coastal population is beyond the ambit of Government welfare schemes and various State subsidies, said Mr. Babu.

Most had no access to subsidised power or piped water, and they could not sell their houses or pledge dwellings as collateral to raise bank loans. The Government's indifference has dispossessed thousands of struggling families of their land and house, he said.

The coastal zone regulations promulgated by the Centre in 2019 required coastal States to submit a CZMP to qualify for exemptions from the harsh provisions that regulated construction and development along the coast and river banks and lake shores.

"Twenty months have elapsed since the amended CRZ notification. Still, Kerala has no CZMP to submit to the Centre. The Government has not held public hearings to hear the opinion of residents and other stakeholders. Development along the coast has ceased, and people in 10 coastal districts are extremely distressed by the turn of events", said Mr. Babu.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan asked: "Maharashtra has done, why not Kerala? The CM's excuse that COVID-19 had delayed the plan finalisation has no merit. Even government schemes to provide free housing for the poor have eluded the coastal community because of the stalemate over CZMP and CRZ", he said.

CZMP soon: Pinarayi

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the Government had constituted an expert committee to rectify the anomalies in the CZMP submitted by the National Centre for Earth Sciences Studies. It will present its findings soon.

The Government has declared 161 coastal panchayats with more than 2,061 persons per square kilometre as urban localities. The localities would fall under CRZ 3 A zone, which allowed for development 50 m away from the high tide line, he said.

The Government has used the same 2011 census criteria to categorise another 90 panchayats as cities. Residents living near rivers, lakes, wetlands and paddies (pokkali) and mangrove forests could expect to get similar relaxations, he added.

The Government has formulated location specifics for the CZMPs for Vembanadu lake and 1,800 odd islets. The thrust of the State's CZMP was to encourage development without endangering the coastal environment, said Mr. Vijayan.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 9:09:00 AM |

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