Makarand Gadgil, Mumbai Mirror May 7 2017

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Environmentalists say maps of the city’s coastline without the hazard line are useless; urge authorities to clearly mark the line.

The absence of the hazard line on the map of the city’s coastline published by Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) renders it worthless, say environmentalists.

The Costal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) puts restriction on any kind of developmental activity within 500 metre of the high-tide line, but according to many, this restriction is arbitrary and it should be replaced with the more progressive concept of hazard line.

The hazard line takes into consideration the area’s topography, and based on topography, the area within which no development activity should be permitted is marked off. The CRZ Regulations 2011make it mandatory to provide hazard lines.

Environmental organisation Conservation Action Trust (CAT) has pointed out this lacuna in the suggestions and objections it has submitted to the MCZMA, which had published draft maps of the coastline on March 29 and called for suggestions and objections from citizens.

The CAT has also objected to plans to throw open for development areas such as Madh, Erangal, Manori, Aksai, Marvi and Gorai along the west coast of Mumbai which fall in the CRZ-II category.

The CAT has demanded that a committee headed by the chief secretary be formed with two representatives from NGOs to identify and demarcate CRZ-II areas in these parts.

CRZ-II is an area which is between 100 metre and 500 metre from the high-tide line but already developed, such as Marine Drive in South Mumbai or Carter Road in Bandra West.

The CAT has also taken issue with the fact that these maps do not show any existing or proposed land use in the coastal regulation zone. The management of these areas can be undertaken effectively only if these two are provided, CAT observed.

The CAT has also demanded that details of satellite imagery be provided — that is, was the tide high or low when these images were captured, and other such information.

Debi Goenka, CAT’s executive trustee, said, “If images are taken during high tide then it covers natural areas like mud flaps and to some extent even mangroves, making it vulnerable to encroachment.”

The CAT has also demanded that forts on islands and along the coast should be classified as CRZ-I — the area within 100 metre from the hightide line in which no developmental activity is allowed.

The CAT has pointed out that there are several cases of saltpans having been converted into agricultural land. “These violations should be shown clearly on the map and such illegally reclaimed saltpans should be restored to their original state at the earliest,” the CAT said.

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