West Bengal to act against illegal hotels on the beach

February 29th, 2008 - 1:14 am ICT by admin  

By Soudhriti Bhabani
Kolkata, Feb 14 (IANS) The West Bengal government is moving court against the unauthorised hotels and resorts that have come up on the sea beach at Mandarmani in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms. “We are going to file an affidavit in the Calcutta High Court. We have already informed the court about the gross violation of CRZ by the hotel owners and the environmental damages in the coastal belt,” a senior environmental department official told IANS.

Mandarmani, located about 180 km from here in East Midnapore district, is a virgin sea resort to which the tourists are flocking in large numbers.

On Feb 20 last year, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) issued an order directing them to demolish their hotels. The order stated the hotels have violated the CRZ notification of 1991.

According to sources, none of the hotel owners at Mandarmani has received clearance from the pollution control board.

After the WBPCB order, the hotel owners moved the high court. Counsel for the hotel owners told the division bench of Chief Justice S.S Nijjar and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh in Calcutta High Court that necessary permission for the hotels was obtained from the local administration (panchayats).

The Calcutta High Court directed the state government Feb 1 to file an affidavit within two weeks.

“The local administration along with state environment department officials went there repeatedly to demolish the construction but failed due to resistance from the local people,” the WBPCB official said.

Mandarmani - a small coastal area in Ramnagar block-II of Contai sub-division in East Midnapore - is a brand new destination whose ecology is being devastated due to permanent constructions in the inter-tidal zone.

The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification of 1991, under the Environment Protection Act 1986, says no such construction may be carried out in the area falling between the low tide line (LTL) and the highest high tide line (HTL) - the area which falls within 500 metres of the landward side of the Highest High Tide Line.

According to the notification, the high tide line means the line on the land up to which the highest water reaches during the spring tide.

Just five years back, before the land developers discovered it, the beach was a breeding ground for mud prawn, metaplex - a very rare type of crab - and red crabs (ocypod).

“Unfortunately, the character of the Mandarmani beach has changed because of the illegal hotel industry there. If the local body (according to petitioners) had allowed them to build permanent construction on the coast, it was a major crime and we will take action against them too,” the official said.

He said the National Coastal Zone Management authority has already told the state government to take immediate action against the law violators at Mandarmani.

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