Goa Foundation PIL on khazan lands adjourned

The Bombay High Court yesterday (15.3.2021) adjourned till April 26, 2021 further hearings of the PIL No.53/2021 which has challenged the 1.5.2020 amendment to the CRZ notification. The Court directed the petitioner to make the National Coastal Zone Management Authority a party respondent in the PIL and directed the NCZMA to respond to the issues raised.

It also permitted the petitioner to file a fresh affidavit bringing additional information on record. The Court decided it would also hear the Goa Foundation PIL WP No.21/2019 which challenges the CRZ notification 2019 (which seeks to replace the 2011 CRZ notification). This the Court decided after it was informed that the khazan system loses its protection under the CRZ notification 2019 after the latter comes into force.

Background to the present petition and order:

PIL WP 53/2021 was filed in view of a recent amendment dated 1st May 2020 to the CRZ Notification 2011 — which was introduced in connection with the demarcation of the High Tide Line in the CRZ areas in which khazan lands exist — erroneously classifying mangroves found within the khazan areas as CRZ IA when in fact the land is part of the khazan system and not the mangrove system. The impugned amendment ostensibly seeks to provide the blanket protection offered to all mangroves in the CRZ notification to those mangroves which have grown within the khazan lands as well which are in fact encroachers, growing up in such khazan fields due to break in the embankments.

In relation to the khazans, however, mangroves can only be encouraged and protected outside the khazan bunds, not within. Therefore the protection to the mangroves that have grown inside the khazan fields due to saline water intrusion is contrary to the objective of the CRZ Notification, 2011 and will lead to the destruction of the khazan ecosystem in Goa.

Further, the impugned amendment renders the CRZ Notification self-contradictory in so far as it mandates the protection and management of khazans, as well as the protection of the mangroves within the khazans.