ABDUL WAHAB KHAN | NT
Former NIO scientist and expert on sand dunes Dr Antonio Mascarenhas said the Chennai-based National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, which drafted the coastal zone management plan for Goa, inappropriately did not consider sand dunes while demarcating high tide line in coastal maps. This means that there is no CRZ-I or ecologically sensitive area in the coastal belt.
He claimed that sand dunes have not been mapped. The central agency avoided looking at low and obscured sand dunes as a base for drawing high tide line, and haphazardly demarcated no-development zones.
The coastal zone includes the area between high and low tide line, and the area up to 200 metre from the high tide line is earmarked as a no-development zone.
Sand dunes are ecologically sensitive and classified under CRZ I vis-à-vis the CRZ Notification, 2011.
Picking holes in the demarcation of high tide line and low tide line in the draft CZMP that has been binned by the government, Dr Mascarenhas observed that the line of permanent vegetation should be considered while demarcating the HTL line on the shore.
But this was not factored in while preparing coastal zone maps, which can be confirmed by comparing the maps with Google Earth images.
He said that at Sernabatim there is massive sand dune belt at the height of seven metre, which actually runs from Colva to Varca. But the sand dune was not mapped entirely in the draft CZMP and only the stretch between Sernabatim and Colva was mentioned.
“If there is vegetation then the seaward limit of the vegetation boundary is considered as HTL. For the eroding dunes, the toe of the foreshore face of the dune is considered as HTL. But the coastal zone maps provided by the NCSCM with information on HTL and LTL for the public consultation, did not take vegetation lines – which are damaged or obscured – to mark the high tide line,” the former NIO scientist explained.
Terming the draft CZMP as a fraud with full of flaws, the former expert member of the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority asserted that the NCSCM did not consider vegetation line to mark high tide line of the Miramar beach, which is an estuarine beach having low dune. Permanent vegetation is distinctly seen on Google Earth images and is easy to interpret. Its boundary towards sea should be set as HTL. However, this is not found in the draft CZMP when compared with Google Earth images.
“In Goa all sandy beaches are backed by dunes of low, medium and high heights. There are places where dune vegetation is obscured due to human interference or some natural factor like at the central portion of the Miramar beach. Instead of avoiding such hidden sand dunes for demarcating high tide lines, the NCSCM should join the vegetation line using mapping tools,” he advised.
He suggested that the government should come out with a mechanism for conservation and management of the sand dunes, adding that the degraded sand dunes should get attention in the new draft CZMP.
Dr Mascarenhas also highlighted on the invasion of mangroves in paddy field and khazan lands, which results in disruption of farming activities.