Goa Church-backed NGO opposes new CRZ 2018 notification

Indo Asian News Service

Panaji, Dec 31 (IANS) Describing the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests's latest CRZ 2018 notification as a "death knell to the coastal communities", a Goa Church-backed NGO on Monday demanded its withdrawal.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Centre for Responsible Tourism, an organisation backed by the influential Roman Catholic Church, also said that the clauses in the notification were detrimental to coastal ecology and will displace local communities and affect biodiversity of coastal regions in the country, including Goa.

"The Coastal Regulation Zone notification of 2018 is a planned erosion of the CRZ notification 2011. By reducing the CRZ area to a mere 50 meters from the hazard lines, it will create an environmental crisis and damage the fragile coastal ecology resulting in imminent floods. This notification does not protect the ecology and livelihood of the coastal inhabitants," the statement said.

The statement also said that the notification, issued last week, permits activities like reclamation of land for commercial activities, interference with sand dunes, large scale recreation and drawing of ground water within the 200-500 metres from the high tide line, which is "detrimental to the coastal ecology and that will displace the local communities and affect the bio-diversity are granted positive approval. The willful dilution and reduction in the protection given to the environment is categorically permitted".

"This notification regularizes the violations to CRZ and opens the way to further destruction of our coastal ecology," the statement said.

The Roman Catholic Church is an influential organisation in the coastal state where Catholics -- who largely reside in the coastal areas -- account for more than a quarter of the state's population of 1.5 million.

Over the last few decades, the Church in Goa has opposed several projects, including real estate ventures in the environmentally fragile coastal regions of Goa, alleging haphazard development by successive governments.