The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jaya plans coastal CMs’ axis

Chennai, May 8: Jayalalithaa plans to form a league of chief ministers to oppose the ban on demolition and reconstruction of heritage buildings along coastal stretches and prohibition of any activity requiring an investment of over Rs 5 crore.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister will be working on counterparts of coastal states and Union Territories, including Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa.

The demolition ban was issued by the Union environment ministry, headed by the DMK’s T.R. Baalu, following the row over Jayalalithaa’s plan to raze the over 90-year Queen Mary’s College — opposite the Marina seafront — to make way for a secretariat complex. The ban is being seen as a move to frustrate Jayalalithaa as the rival DMK is strongly against the project.

Raising the issue in the Assembly, Jayalalithaa has charged that the notification was born “out of an individual’s (read Baalu) sheer political animosity towards me”.

In one stroke, the notification sought to convert the environment ministry into a ‘super planning sanctioning authority’ and make states beg for permission to undertake projects in coastal stretches.

Making a suo motu statement, Jayalalithaa said the ban not only sought to demolish the federal structure of the polity by taking away the state’s right but would also freeze development activities in all coastal states.

The earlier Rule 5 under the Environment Protection Act aimed at regulating only construction of polluting industries along coastal stretches and did not require Central sanction.

Jayalalithaa said the notification would affect Goa a great deal and reduce the proposed Sethu Samudram project —deepening the Palk straits off the Ramanathapuram coast in Tamil Nadu — to a pipe dream.

Taking a dig at Baalu, she said he appeared to be ignorant that “rules” under any Act were framed by bureaucrats and by modifying Rule 5 unilaterally, he had acted “against the scheme of the Constitution”.

The notification was not discussed with the Union Cabinet either, she said.

“Mr Baalu has lost his moral right to continue as Central minister,” she said. Hence, “I have decided to act in concert with all the coastal states’ chief ministers to legally challenge this notification”.

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