Study on carrying capacity of beaches commissioned

The state government has asked the national centre for sustainable coastal management (NCSCM) to conduct a study assessing the carrying capacity of beaches for erection of shacks, mapping of sand dunes and preparation of coastal zone management plan (CZMP).

While the beach shack policy 2013-16 is valid up to the end of the current tourist season, a report on the carrying capacity is expected to be submitted by August 2016.

NCSCM is also expected to submit another report on mapping of sand dunes by August. The CZMP is to be handed in by September 2016. Director-cum-joint secretary (environment) Srinet Kotwale issued a letter naming the autonomous centre of ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) for the three studies.

Tourism department permits more than 300 temporary structures on the state’s beaches every season and they are dismantled by May 31. While complaints of pollution by shacks due to problems of waste and sewage management problems have been rife, the recent MoEF decision to allow them to continue standing on the condition that they do not conduct business, did not go down well in some quarters.

The destruction of sand dunes, which are a second line of defence in the coastal belt, has been another touchy issue for environmental activists.

 National green tribunal, in a judgement on December 14, 2015, had directed Goa coastal zone management authority (GCZMA) to consult MoEF for an exercise to identify sand dunes in an integrated manner and not in a piecemeal way or on crisis management mode.
 Taking cognizance of complaints of destruction of sand dunes, national green tribunal (NGT) had even directed GCZMA to create public awareness about criteria to identify features of sand dunes to highlight their ecological importance.
The state was required to prepare CZMP a few years ago, but has lagged in initiating the process to get it ready.