PUDUCHERRY: Concerned about the impact of harbours and ports on the coastal ecology and livelihood resources, members of fishing communities from Puducherry, Karaikal and Tamil Nadu and environment activists emphasised the need for formulating and implementing an integrated coastal management plan taking into account the well-being of the coastal environment and its communities and an effective monitoring programme for the coastal environment, before State governments allowed construction of ports and commercial harbours.
A consultation on the government policies on ports and harbours and its impact on coastal ecology, livelihood resources and fishing communities was organised by Coastal Action Network (CAN) and Pondy Citizens’ Action Network (PondyCAN) on Monday.
Speakers at the consultation said the construction of ports and harbours in the coastal zone had extensive impact on the coastal environment, leading to degradation. This affected the livelihood of families in the coastal communities.
Sudarshan Rodriguez from Dakshin Foundation said there were 199 notified ports, of which 12 were major ports and 187 minor ports. The Central government, in the 11th Five Year Plan, identified 331 ports for development on the mainland, roughly one port for every 20 km.
He said there was poor science and planning in coastal management, development and environment planning and environmental de-regulation of coastal management and environmental impact assessment laws. Many port projects were coupled with Special Economic Zone, rail and highway corridors, he added
Another speaker Gandhimathi of CAN said river courses were affected due to the Karaikal port. Ports affected groundwater, contaminated water sediments, coastal and land ecology and caused beach erosion.
The consultation noted that harbours in Chennai, Ennore, Puducherry, Cuddalore, Karaikal and Nagapattinam have caused damage to the coastline in the form of coastal erosion, salt water intrusion, damage to agriculture and ecology, increased vulnerability to natural calamities.
Consolidating the recommendations put forward during the meet, the participants submitted a resolution that State governments should take appropriate action not to allow construction of ports and commercial harbours unless – coastal areas, which were already damaged due to man-made interventions, have been identified and studied, restored to its pristine and undisturbed condition.
With coastal communities not being consulted for developments along the coastline, the resolutions stressed the need to accept and accord the land rights of fishing and coastal community through a legitimate means and process. A consultative process to take in the views and requirements of all sections of the coastal communities was necessary.
The Coastal Regulation Zone notification related to coastal environment should be implemented properly, the members insisted.
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