Green nod to military infra on coastal areas

Green nod to military infra on coastal areas

After years of struggle, the defence ministry has finally received a breather from the Union ministry of environment and forest, which will allow construction of military infrastructure in the most regulated coastal areas (CRZ-I) where such activities are generally not permitted.

The green ministry on Monday issued an official notification amending a critical segment of the Coastal Regulation Zone notification 2011 that deals with six exceptional cases where some kind of construction is allowed in the CRZ-I area.

A seventh exception has now been incorporated in the regulation.

Projects relating to defence organisations which are of strategic requirement and national importance and can't be located elsewhere will be allowed in the CRZ-I area, subject to strict environmental safeguards, it says.

This would particularly help the Navy and Coast Guard spruce up their coastal infrastructure and in the islands as India aims a bigger maritime role in the Indian Ocean.

CRZ-I comprises areas that are ecologically sensitive such as mangroves, corals and coral reefs, sand dunes, salt marshes, national parks, mudflats that are biologically active, horseshoe crab habitat, turtle nesting grounds, sea grass beds, nesting ground of birds and structures of archaeological importance.

Moreover, the area between high tide line and low tide line falls in this category.

An expert panel, chaired by space scientist and former Ministry of Earth Sciences secretary Shailesh Naik reviewed the CRZ-2011 and suggested several changes, some of which the green ministry is in the process of implementing.

When Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited Andaman last October, she was given a briefing by the navy on its future plans on infrastructure development in the island.

This includes expanding a 3,500 ft runway to a 10,000 ft to operate fighter aircraft from Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Another project that may benefit from the new decision is Project Varsha  —  India's nuclear submarine pen being created on the east coast near Visakhapatnam.

The navy is currently acquiring land for phase-2 of the project.

The super secret project received more than Rs 1,500 crore in the last two years and another Rs 570 crore has been earmarked in 2018-19, sources told DH.

Other projects to benefit from the green ministry's decision are navy's new VLF station, expansion of Karwar base at Kamorta (Nicobar), Diglipur and Campbell Bay (Andaman).

 

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