It’s just a pre-draft of how India’s 6,000 kilometre fragile coastline should be protected. But the paper has already not gone down well with environmental activists who have described the pre-draft of the new Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) 2010 notification is anti-environment and pro-industry.
While the original basic principle of the CRZ 1991 notification was to check what activity should be allowed within 500 metres from the coastline, several amendments introduced diluted it, said activists. For instance, the proposed Navi Mumbai airport to be built on mangrove land that falls under CRZ I, the highest protected area.
“Once the airport comes up, it opens doors for all kinds of activities, the side-effects of which will be detrimental to the environment,” said V. Vivekanandan, Convener, National Coastal Protection Campaign.
“But the pre-draft CRZ 2010 notification does not seem to strengthen and plug the existing loopholes for environmental coastal protection and address the issues of the fishing community.”
With about 300 approved ports — mostly by the private sector —and several proposed thermal and nuclear power plants that will need the coastline, activists are demanding for a cumulative environment impact assessment study and setting limits to the number of projects along the coast.
The pre-draft has been released by the Ministry of Environment and Forests following public consultations with various stakeholders—fishermen, coastal communities and civil society representatives— across eight coastal states between August 2009 and March 2010.
The fishing community has also raised objections stating that the pre-draft has failed to address the dwelling and livelihood rights of the fishing community, providing only token concessions.
“Existing rules to protect our coastline are either bent or weakened to benefit the builders and the industrial lobby, at the expense of the fishing communities and our environment,” said R. K. Patil, chairperson, Maharashtra Machimar Kruti Samiti.
Other contentious issues relating to the coastal regulation in Mumbai include slum rehabilitation and redevelopment of old buildings within 500 kilometeres from the coastline.