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KCA given 15 days to respond to the notice
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority (KSCZMA) has issued a show-cause notice to the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) seeking reasons why action should not be taken against it for violation of provisions of the Coastal Zone Regulation Notification 1991 and destruction of mangroves at the site of the proposed cricket stadium at Edakochi in Ernakulam district.
The KCA has been given 15 days to respond to the notice, issued by the KSCZMA on Monday in the wake of the December 21, 2010 order of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests asking the Authority to take appropriate action in accordance with provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 and submit an action taken report back to the Ministry.
This is the second time that the KCSZMA is intervening in the controversial project after having ordered an immediate stay on any construction at the site on September 28 last year on the basis of a private complaint that large-scale destruction of mangroves had taken place at the plot purchased by the KCA for its ambitious project.
Further, this has led to a detailed study on the basis of a site visit by an official team led by S.K. Susarla of the Bengaluru Regional Office of the Ministry. It was acting upon the report submitted by this high-level team that the Ministry had come up with its December 21 order.
Site within CRZ II area
The KCA had contended in its explanation to the September 28 order of the KSCZMA that the contentious site at Pambaimoola in Edakochi actually fell within CRZ II area and not CRZ I as was mentioned by the Authority in its stay order and hence there was no prohibition for construction on the landward side of its project site.
Further, the KCA had also stressed that there were no mangrove plants within its property while seeking that the KSCZMA should refrain itself from issuing any directions to stop activities relating to the construction of the proposed stadium. Besides, the KCA had also said that any construction activity will be taken up only after getting due approval from the KSCZMA and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Area consisted of mangroves
However, the January 10 notice issued by the KSCZMA says that taking into account the evidences, in the site visit report of Ms. Susarla, analysis of satellite imagery studies (over the past one decade undertaken by the Centre for Earth Science Studies), field reports, photographic evidences and the report from the District Forest Officer (relating to illegal felling of mangroves at the site for which a case has already been booked against the KCA), it is clear that the area consisted of mangroves and filtration ponds fully justifying the categorisation of the area under CRZ I.
“As per the satellite imagery dated January 29, 2010, almost 60 per cent of the area was covered by mangroves, which is further corroborated by the photographs taken on September 3, 2010. Subsequent pictures clearly indicate substantial clearance of mangroves, an activity prohibited as per the CRZ Notification 1991.”
The notice, signed by the KSCAMA chairman, C.T.S. Nair, further goes on to state: “It is evident that the mangrove vegetation in the area has been removed for preparing the area for development as a cricket stadium, an activity prohibited in the CRZ I area. Your contention that the area did not have any mangrove and that it falls in CRZ II is totally incorrect.”
In view of this and in compliance of the December 21 order issued by the Union Ministry, it is proposed to take the following actions: (a) continue the prohibition of any activity/development of the area as directed on September 28, 2010; (b) impose appropriate penalty for undermining the ecological services and other benefits by way of removing the mangrove vegetation as per the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 and (c) restoration of the area to its original status as it existed prior to removal of the mangrove vegetation, the notice states.
The KCA has also been warned that in case no explanation reaches the KSCZMA within the time stipulated, further action will be taken without any other notice.
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