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Wednesday, Oct 20, 2021
Outlook.com

The Roots Of Refuge

It's time to undertake a reality check and rebuild our natural coastal defences

The Roots Of Refuge
Sandeep Adhwaryu
The Roots Of Refuge
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
In 1989 as minister for environment and forests, my first action was to make the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) applicable to 500 meters. No building activity was permitted within 500 m of the coastline. Indira Gandhi had first mooted this idea. Predictably, the hotel industry (and those chemical and oil industries that wanted to be close to the sea so they could quietly throw their effluents into it) leapt into action. They didn’t care for the damage to the coast as long as they could make money.

My reasoning based on the experience of thousands of scientists was: a) if the sea came in a storm, it would destroy the buildings; b) by clearing the sand dunes, mangroves, coral reefs to raise buildings, the land would be eroded; c) as water from the water table near the beach was displaced, seawater would fill the void.

As soon as I demitted office, the hotel industry put a lot of "pressure" (which usually means it paid) on my successor who mocked the rule as "anti-industry". The CRZ went down to 300, then 200, then it became optional and then it disappeared altogether....

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