NGT directs Tamil Nadu Government to stop construction of fish landing centre in Thoothukudi

By T.K. Rohit

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Tamil Nadu Government to stop further construction of a fish landing centre and associated structures at Singithurai in Thoothukudi district, which was undertaken without requisite clearance under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011.

A special bench, comprising NGT Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel, three judicial members and an expert member, also directed statutory authorities to take appropriate action with respect to the construction already completed.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change submitted to the Tribunal that no approval was sought for the project. The Collector submitted that the facility was needed by fishermen even if it was not permissible under CRZ regulations. The bench noted that the stand of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) was that there was confusion whether the area fell under the CRZ.

As per the status report filed by the Tamil Nadu Nadu Coastal Zone Management Authority, the construction was not permissible, and it was the responsibility of the District Coastal Zone Management Authority to enforce the regulations, the bench noted.

“The counsel for the State fairly stated that even though, strictly speaking, the construction may be in violation of the CRZ Notification, 2011, it was undertaken bona fide in the interest of fishermen,” the bench noted. The counsel submitted that since there was apprehension that there could be unauthorised development due to the construction of a road, the bench could pass appropriate directions.

“Having given due consideration to the matter, we are of the view that even if according to the State, the activity is in the interest of the fishermen, the same cannot be done by violating the law. No illegality can be justified,” the NGT said.

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