Sardinha urges centre to relax CRZ

| 15 April 2000 23:16 IST

Goa has urged the centre to partially relax the coastal zone regulations in the state in order to complete the ongoing projects and prohibit illegal constructions along the river banks here.

A demand to revert back to the original position by reviewing the CRZ regulations along the beachline as well as the rivers has been made to T Balu, the union minister for environment and forests.

"He was very much sympathetic to my demand as the existing regulations would create lots for problems in the tourist state", said chief minister Francisco Sardinha, after returning from his recent Delhi visit.

Besides banning any new construction within 200 metres of the high tide line anywhere along the coastline, it also prohibits such construction by other than the residing locals along the river banks till where the sea tide goes. From the estuary the banned area is 100 metres or the breadth of the river, whichever is less.

In Goa, besides 104 km-long coastline, the inland waterways comprises of almost 250 kms while the main part of it is covered by eight rivers which ultimately join the Arabian sea. The tidal waves of the sea however reach almost the eastern border of the state in all these rivers.

Due to this, the CRZ not only affects the coastline but also the hinterland, observes Sardinha while suggesting that this ban may be kept limited only up to 500 metres from the sea while only 10 metres of setback be kept for the rest of the river bank.

According to him, such a restriction would ultimately lead to either illegal construction or reconstruction. "Will anybody who loves trees cut his own plantation", he asks while ridiculing the regulation.

Similarly, Sardinha has also demanded that the limit of 200 metres from the HTL be relaxed for the ongoing projects including the ones which are going for further construction in phases. "These projects otherwise become economically unviable", he adds.

Dr Claude Alvares, whose Goa Foundation has been approaching the court for several such violations all these years, asks how these legal restrictions could be relaxed when it is passed by the Coastal Zone Management Authority and then approved by the ministry way back in September 1996.

"It would mean contempt of court", he says, pointing out that the regulations are made as per the Supreme Court judgement in this regard while overruling even the cabinet decisions taken by the state governments earlier.

The demand to relax it however has been coming mainly from Bombay-based developers who have bought plots along the river banks while the tourism lobby wants to add to the existing concrete jungle along the coastline, he adds.

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