Tuesday, Apr 22, 2003
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By Feroze Ahmed
In a memorandum to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Concerned Citizens' Group (CCG) protests that though the Director of Environment, Tamil Nadu, in February 1998 recommended that the Marina stretch be categorised as CRZ-I (ecologically fragile area), the State's Coastal Zone Management Plan had not taken steps to do so.
Presently, the Marina stretch falls under CRZ-II, which allows for urban development, though with restrictions.
The group also pulls up the MoEF for not making efforts to reclassify the Marina ecosystem despite a demand to do so since 1994, when the Ministry stepped in and stalled a move to demolish the Director-General of Police office along the stretch.
"As a result, this ecologically sensitive and important area is in danger of being commercialised with huge, high-rise buildings coming up, which will totally destroy the ecosystem and ravage the lives of the citizens," it states.
The CCG comprises of the Centre for Urban Poverty Alleviation, the Citizens' Alliance for Sustainable Living (SUSTAIN), INTACH, the Consumer Action Group, Exnora International and other prominent citizens, including former IAS officials, heritage activists and academics.
"The Chennai Marina ecosystem," its memorandum says, "comprises of the sea, sand and built structures within, but not confined to the boundaries of the Bay of Bengal on the east, River Cooum on the north, Buckingham Canal on the west, and the Adyar on the south".
Referring to the definition of CRZ-I "areas that are ecologically sensitive and important, such as national parks/marine parks, sanctuaries, reserve forests, wildlife habitats, mangroves, coral/coral reefs, areas close to breeding and spawning grounds of fish and other marine life, areas of outstanding natural beauty/historical/heritage areas..." the statement argues that the Marina ecosystem falls within the description.
Citing the ecological significance of the area and the heritage value of structures along the Marina for their Indo-Sarcenic architectural style, it also points out to the relevance of the Adyar estuary and the role of the Marina ecosystem as a breeding ground for Olive Ridley turtles.
"The entire area should have been classified as CRZ-I, where no development should be allowed and it should be restored back to its natural form and beauty," it says.
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