State is not above the law, says National Green Tribunal

‘Fish landing centre in Thoothukudi built without CRZ clearance’

January 10, 2021 07:09 am | Updated 07:09 am IST - CHENNAI

The State is not above the law if there are violations committed in a project implemented by it, the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has said.

A violator has to face the consequences if any law is violated, it said, hearing a case against the construction of a fish landing centre of the Fisheries Department at Singithurai in Thoothukudi.

The report of a joint committee, which was submitted to the NGT, pointed to the violations in the construction of the fish landing centre in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) area without the necessary clearance under the CRZ Notification, 2011, and also in the laying of a concrete road, which was prohibited in the location.

The Thoothukudi Collector submitted that the construction of the fish landing centre was not a prohibited activity, and the site was under CRZ-II. “There is no dispute on the fact that it is a permissible activity. The question is whether prior CRZ clearance has been obtained under the CRZ Notification, 2011, for the construction of the fish landing centre, and the committee’s report will go to show that it was constructed without the necessary clearance under the CRZ Notification, 2011,” the Bench said.

If that was the case, “how the Collector, who is supposed to be the chairman of the District Coastal Zone Management Authority and who has to implement the provisions of the CRZ Notification, 2011, in letter and spirit and take action against the persons who are violating the provisions of the CRZ Notification, 2011, has allowed violation of CRZ,” the Bench asked.

It directed the State Coastal Zone Management Authority to submit an action-taken report on the basis of the recommendations made by the joint committee. If the State authorities were not taking action, the regional office of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in Chennai should look into the issue and take action.

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