MoEF signals green to military infra build-up plans in isles

Report by: 
EOI BUREAU
Port Blair
29 Jul 2018

In a big boost for the infrastructure development plans of the Defence Ministry, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has officially notified critical amendments in the Coastal Regulation Zone notification 2011 that deals with six exceptional cases where some kind of construction is allowed in the CRZ-I area. The amendment will now allow construction of military infrastructure in the most regulated coastal areas (CRZ-I) where such activities are generally not permitted. The amendment in the CRZ notification will allow the military forces including the Coast Guard build up infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and other coastal territories.  Some of the major infrastructure development projects of the Andaman and Nicobar Command include expansion of runway at Campbell Bay to operate fighter aircrafts, building a new Naval station, expansion of base at Kamorta in Nicobar, Diglipur and Campbell Bay.
As per the notification issued earlier this month, areas under CRZ-1 are ecologically most sensitive and generally no activities are be permitted to be carried out in the CRZ-I areas. However, the Ministry of Environment considering the recommendations of an expert panel, chaired by space scientist and former Ministry of Earth Sciences Secretary Mr Shailesh Naik added certain exceptions which include eco-tourism activities such as mangrove walks, tree huts, nature trails, etc., in identified stretches areas subject to such eco-tourism plan featuring in the approved CZMPs as per the Notification, framed with due consultative process/ public hearing etc. And further subject to environmental safeguards and precautions related to the Ecologically Sensitive Areas, as enlisted in the CZMPs, in the mangrove buffer, only such activities shall be permitted like laying of pipelines, transmission lines, conveyance systems/mechanisms and construction of road on stilts etc. that are required for public utilities and construction of roads and roads on stilts, by way of reclamation in CRZ-I areas, shall be permitted only in exceptional cases for defence , strategic purposes and public utilities, subject to a detailed marine/terrestrial environment impact assessment, to be recommended by the Coastal Zone Management Authority and approved by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; and in case construction of such roads passes through mangrove areas or is likely to damage the mangroves, a minimum three times the mangrove area affected/ destroyed /cut during the construction process shall be taken up for compensatory plantation of mangroves.