The National Green Tribunal has directed a Joint Committee to look into a plea against illegal shrimp farms in violation of Coastal Zone Regulation Notification and norms for the protection of flood plain area of the Kim and Sena rivers in Surat and Bharuch districts of Gujarat.
"We are of the view that for compliance of environmental Rule of Law, enforcement of CRZ Regulations needs to be assessed and remedial action ensured by a Joint Committee of GCZMA, State PCB, District Magistrates, Bharuch and Surat and Directorate of Fisheries, Gujarat", said the bench headed by NGT chairperson A.K Goel in an order dated January 12.
The petitioner Brackish Water Research Centre, an NGO, had moved the tribunal saying the illegal shrimp farms are increasing the risk of man-made floods. Gulf of Khambhat where the two rivers flow is a designated "Critically Vulnerable Coastal Areas (CVCA)" as per CRZ, 2019, requiring special consideration.
Accordingly, in an order on August 24 last year, the Tribunal had issued notice to the respondents which includes Collectors of Surat and Bharuch, Gujrat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA), and State PCB.
In the reply filed by the Collectors, Surat and Bharuch giving details of study undertaken for identification of shrimp farms and salt pans to decide the status of compliance of CRZ and other violations. It is stated that the assessment is still not complete.
Counsel for GCZMA submitted that in Bharuch 55 operating units were stopped but the Gujarat High Court remanded the matter for giving a hearing. However, no activity is going on as of today.
Some leases were given in the CRZ area wrongly which are proposed to be recalled. The action was earlier taken for violation of the Land Revenue Act which was not adequate but now effective action is proposed to be taken under the CRZ Regulations, it said.
Counsel for the applicant submitted that activities are stopped at the moment as it is off-season but the remedial action taken is inadequate.
After taking note of the submissions, the Green Court has formed the joint committee and asked them to hold a meeting within two weeks and further action in the light of information compiled may be overseen and ensured so that there is no illegal shrimp farming on the flood plains of the rivers and in violation of CRZ regulations, adversely affecting the ecology.
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