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Vizhinjam-Kovalam sector “outstanding natural beauty” - NGT's order may affect port project

Posted on 18 Jul 2014

Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday decided to review the constitutionality of a 2011 Coastal Regulation Zone notification which exempted coastal areas of “outstanding natural beauty” such as the Vizhinjam-Kovalam sector from protection.

A five-member Bench of the tribunal led by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar held it had the “complete and comprehensive trappings of a court” to exercise the “limited power of judicial review to examine the constitutional validity/vires of the subordinate legislation. In the present case the CRZ notification of 2011”. The judgment came on an application and subsequent appeal by two Thiruvananthapuram-based environmental activists, Wilfred J. and V. Marydasan, seeking the tribunal’s intervention to direct that coastal areas throughout the country, including the Vizhinjam coast, be “preserved and no activity be undertaken which would damage such areas.

The Bench quoted the activists’ argument that coastal areas of “outstanding natural beauty” and those “likely to be inundated due to rise in sea level consequent upon global warming” which were included in the CRZ notification of 1991. But these areas, including Vizhinjam-Kovalam sector, found no place in the 2011 notification of the UPA-2 government.

The harbour project got environmental and CRZ clearance on January 3, 2014. The activists claim the project was being established in the area once protected under the 1991 notification.

The judgment said the exemption under the 2011 notification was not confined to Kerala coast but also for the 6000-km-long coastal line of the country.