Environmentalists and fishing communities slam proposed Marine Coastal Regulations
Environmentalists and coastal communities believe the proposed coastal regulations are a dilution of current regulations and will prove disastrous for the coastal ecosystem.health Updated: May 08, 2017 19:02 IST
India has a 7500 km-coastline that supports about 30 percent of India’s population. Protection and development of India’s coasts is governed by the Coastal Regulatory Zone notification (CRZ). The government is set to overhaul the rules in a move that experts say will dilute them, proving disastrous for the environment and coastal communities.
“It is a complete sham, They are trying to take away all the safeguard to protect the coasts,” Pondicherry based environmentalist, Probir Banerjee, said. The National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) said that they “rejected and condemned” the proposed changes to CRZ 2011.
One of the key changes proposed is allowing ‘essential amenities’ like sewage treatment plants, link roads and coastal roads, and ecotourism projects in Coastal Regulation Zone I (CRZ I). The current regulations do not allow this. The big push seems to be for tourism.
“There are no hotels there is no other infrastructure so in the last 25 years what has happened that tourism is being diverted to neighboring countries,” Mukul Rohatgi, Attorney General of India said about development along India’s coast, at a conference earlier this year, highlighting the need to review India’s coastal regulations.
The draft rules allow for squeezing the No Development Zone (NDZ) from the current 200 metres from the High Tide Line to 50 metres from the HTL in CRZ III areas. From the minutes of the meeting it seems that ministries like the Tourism, Shipping and Urban Development, who are considered stakeholder ministries, want this zone to be even narrower.
Another departure in the proposed rules is allowing for temporary tourism facilities to come up in the NDZ.
“If they open the ecologically sensitive areas to tourism, you open the floodgates, millions of people will be going there and the ecosystem to will be destroyed,” Banerjee said.
“The overarching message is that the coast has to be opened up for more and more development,” Meenakshi Kapoor at the Centre for Policy Research, said.
The government has insisted that the new rules would benefit coastal communities.However fears persist that though they are being packaged as pro-poor and pro-tourism, the latter concerns will override the concerns of communities.
These fears are echoed by some representatives of fishing communities.
That their views were not being considered in the process. The government is expected to release the draft rules soon and open them up for comments.
CRZ rules that were brought into force in 2011 were never fully implemented, according to Kapoor. “None of the states that were supposed to come up with new coastal development plans based on the new rules, did so.”
The Shailash Nayak Committee was set up in 2014 to review the CRZ 2011 and came up with recommendations that also seemed to weaken coastal regulations. An analysis by CPR shows that the proposed rules are even more lax compared to the committee’s recommendations.
In an interview with CRP Nayak said that the review of CRZ 2011 was done to “ address inconsistencies in notification and amendments and simplification of procedures for obtaining clearances.”