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Huge projects ruffle feathers, says SC on Vizhinjam port

Posted on 12 Mar 2016

: Referring to the challenge faced by the multi-crore Vizhinjam International Multi-Purpose Seaport project from environmental activists in Kerala, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said such huge projects are expected to ruffle some feathers.

The remark came from a Bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur during a hearing on whether the project, was an ecological threat.

The court is also hearing arguments on whether the coastal areas around Vizhinjam-Kovalam are of “outstanding natural beauty” and thus a fragile ecological zone.

In an earlier hearing, Chief Justice Thakur had remarked that priority should be given to big projects implemented in national interest.

Appearing for environmentalists, senior advocate Raj Panjwani and advocate Prashant Bhushan had countered that the area earmarked for the port was unique, complete with laterite rocks, that aug- ments water conservation.

“If an area is found environmentally sensitive, it is the duty of the State to protect it. Here, laterite cliffs have been completely destroyed, shoreline has declined due to dredging,” Mr. Bhushan had argued. Early last year, the apex court had stayed a judgment of the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to review the constitutionality of a 2011 Coastal Regulation Zone notification exempting coastal areas of “outstanding natural beauty” like Vizhinjam from protection.

The NGT decision was based on an application by two Thiruvananthapuram-based environmental activists, Wilfred J. and V. Marydasan, asking the tribunal to direct that coastal areas throughout the country, including the Vizhinjam coast, be “preserved and no activity be undertaken that would damage such areas”.

A CRZ notification in 1991 had classified coastal areas with “outstanding natural beauty” and those “likely to be inundated due to rise in sea level consequent upon global warming” as fragile zones. But these areas, including Vizhinjam-Kovalam sector, found no place in the 2011 notification of the UPA-2 government.

The remark comes during a hearing on whether the

project is an ecological threat