The National Green Tribunal has asked the government to respond to a news channel’s plea to protect coastal environment after it initiated a four-year campaign on large-scale environmental degradation along the vast Indian coastline.
The Tribunal’s direction came after it heard a plea by New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV) saying it had initiated ‘Save India’s Coast’ campaign in 2011 to create awareness about the vast coastline of the country, with its TV footage showing illegal sand mining along the coastline and industrial waste being dumped into the sea, besides other problems.
NDTV, through its plea, sought directions to protect the coastal environment and the livelihood of coastal communities from degradation also caused by activities in ports and harbours, not only to the people but the ecology as well.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notice to Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and various port authorities, seeking their replies by October 16.
“From Rann of Kutch to the Bay of Bengal, the applicant’s effort to highlight the problems in these areas have been extensive. Even the then Union Environment Minister had joined the applicant’s team at the beginning of campaign in Gujarat and in the end in Orissa.
“Various video documentaries made by the applicant on the Orissa Paradip port impact, impact on the Puducherry coast, impact on the beached ship on the coast in Goa and a documentary on whether our country needs so many ports were prepared by the applicant,” the plea said.
NDTV has further stated that these documentaries highlighted the “sad state of Indian coasts and the damage caused to not just to the livelihood and existence of human beings living along the coastline but also the destruction caused to turtle nestling grounds, mangrove forests, coastal lands etc”.
“The applicant seeks intervention of this Tribunal due to the failure of the respondents, who are the authorities entrusted with the establishment and management of ports and harbours in India, in complying with the essence of the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2011 and thus the Environment Protection Act, 1986,” the plea said.
The news channel has sought framing of a national coastal policy and a national regulator which should be responsible for “development, mangement, safety and security of all ports and harbours in India”.