Govt extends validity of coastal regulation zone clearance for infra by 3 years | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Govt extends validity of coastal regulation zone clearance for infra projects by 3 years

ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi
Jul 06, 2023 12:21 AM IST

Government has extended the validity of coastal regulation zone clearance to 10 years as per a 2019 notification at present

The validity of coastal regulation zone clearance will be extended to 10 years from the seven as per a 2019 notification at present, according to a new notification by the government.

Government extends coastal clearance validity to 10 years. (AP)
Government extends coastal clearance validity to 10 years. (AP)

CRZ clearance – approval for projects that fall in the vicinity of a coastlines -- was valid for seven years which could be extended for a maximum of three years through an application by the project proponent (any industry/infrastructure project) and with a recommendation for extension by the State Coastal Zone Management Authority. But now CRZ clearances are being harmonised with environmental clearances, which will be granted for 10 years, officials said.

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In a notification issued on July 3, the Union environment ministry also made CRZ clearance transferrable to another project proponent and made provisions for the CRZ clearance granted for a specific project to be split amongst two or more project proponents.

However, the ministry did not provide any public notice for people to submit objections and suggestions to these clauses.

The CRZ clearance shall be valid for a period of ten years now and the validity of the CRZ clearance may be extended by a maximum period of one year, if an application is made by the applicant within the period of validity, along with the recommendations of the Coastal Zone Management Authority concerned.

The ministry has also made it clear that the period from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 shall not be considered for the purpose of calculation of the period of validity of CRZ clearance granted under this notification in view of outbreak of Covid 19.

This exemption was also provided to environmental clearances earlier.

“We had to harmonise the environment clearance and CRZ clearance. This will provide a lot of clarity to user agencies. There should be no ambiguity and all clearances should be harmonised,” said a senior environment ministry official.

Independent experts sought time to respond to change in validity of CRZ clearance. “It comes without public scrutiny which is very worrying. What is the hurry to notify these changes?” said a researcher on environmental clearances.

A CRZ clearance granted for a specific project, may be split amongst two or more legal persons (project proponent), entitled to undertake the project and transferred during the validity to another legal person on application made by the transferor along with requisite documents after obtaining recommendation by the Coastal Zone Management Authority concerned.

"While the notification appears to be addressing a technical gap, it needs to be contextualised with the broader question of the space environmental approvals have in project development. Environmental approvals may be granted when finance, tendering or access to land may still be pending. The grant of an environment or coastal regulation approvals gives project developers the opportunities to ‘secure’ land, potentially restricting existing livelihood, habitat or cultural rights. If done for a period of 10 years, it can run the risk of productive access to the project area being curtailed even as developers are trying to get all necessary approvals. These signals then need to embed the environmental assessment into broader processes of evaluating project viability. Without that securing land can render project areas unproductive for long durations and may also lead to local conflicts," said Kanchi Kohli, legal and policy researcher.

In November last year, the Union environment ministry had issued a notification allowing temporary shacks and structures on the beach during non-monsoon months and manual removal of sandbars (ridges of sand) in intertidal areas abutting the coast.

The notification consolidated and reconciled changes made in coastal regulation zone (CRZ) laws over the years, made with an eye on boosting tourism, though environmentalists said it is important to understand the impact of projects on these areas, among the most fragile environmentally, and especially in the context of the climate crisis.

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