Terming the notice published, on July 12, by the Department of Environment announcing taluka-level presentations to explain the CZMP maps and plans starting from Pernem on July 19 and ending at Mormugao on August 9 as unprecedented and highly irregular, Citizens for Coastal Communities (CCC) has said that it not only reveals the department’s ignorance over procedures to be followed, and of the issues plaguing the widely-rejected National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) proposal, but also showcases the stubbornness of a “blind” and “incapable” government pursuing an anti-people, anti-environment plan.
Addressing a press conference, members of Citizens for Coastal Communities Abhijeet Prabudessai, Melwyn Dias and Ramiro Mascarenhas and its convenor Xavier Fernandes said that firstly, the NCSCM plans have been rejected by all stakeholders due to serious fundamental flaws such as grossly incorrect HTL, failure to demarcate fishing areas, fish breeding areas and fishing villages, failure to understand and map the critical features of the unique CRZ areas of Goa along our rivers and the seas (manshiyo, gayre, etc are not marked), failure to demarcate existing structures, failure to provide a comparison with the earlier CZMPs, failure to consider sea level rise, storm surges, global warming, and so on, and asked, “What is the purpose behind holding presentation to explain these utterly flawed plans, or asking for objections/comments?”
In a press note issued here, it was revealed that they had called on the Environment Minister on July 8 to try to convince him to prepare the CZMPs afresh, and he admitted that the CZMPs are prepared without essential data to be furnished by Department of Fisheries, directorate of Survey and Land Records, Agriculture Department and Water Resources Department.
“This, he stated, was the reason for the gross errors in the draft CZMPs. Now that the government has admitted that the plans were prepared without necessary data on fisher folk, houses, water bodies, agriculture lands, etc, holding presentations to explain these grossly incorrect plans to the people and asking for objections is making mockery of the people and the process of public consultation,” they said.
Thirdly, they said that it is the mandate of the CRZ Notification 2011, the Constitution and UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People to consult the local residents and communities while preparing such plans, yet NCSCM has not even visited a single fisher folk, local resident, communidade, tenants’ association or village panchayat.
“It is the unanimous demand of all stakeholders, namely the fisherfolk, tenants, occupants, local residents, indigenous communities, along with the panchayats and other associations that the plans must be prepared in consultation with them. Why is the government not willing to allow the sovereign public to participate in this exercise that will determine their rights and the future of Goa?,” they asked.
“Why is the Minister of Environment trying to bulldoze Goa and Goans with the same CZMPs, he admits to be fundamentally flawed? Why is the government trying to impose these anti-people, anti-environment plans without following the law, without listening to the people, and without caring for Goa and Goans?,” they further asked.
They also demanded that the notice dated July 12 be withdrawn immediately and the government face the reality and prepare fresh CZMPs in consultation with the people, failing which the people will be forced to resort to all constitutional means to protect their rights, rights of future generations, and Goa.