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Govt gives nod to shacks, temporary structures in coastal regulation zone

ByJayashree Nandi
Nov 29, 2022 04:21 AM IST

The Centre has issued a notification allowing temporary shacks and structures on the beach during non monsoon months and manual removal of sandbars in inter-tidal areas abutting the coast

The Union environment ministry has 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.

Goa, India - 28 March 2015: Empty beds at a sea side shack at Baga beach in Goa on Saturday, 28 March 2015. Photo by Arijit Sen (Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

The notification consolidates and reconciles 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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The notification, issued on November 24 also delegated the responsibility of approving some projects in CRZ-I (areas environmentally most critical) and CRZ-IV (areas with seawater) to the state coastal zone management authorities. These projects include stand-alone jetties, salt works, slipways, temporary structures, and erosion control measures.

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The notification has also clarified that all construction activities related to projects of the Department of Atomic Energy or related to National Defence or Strategic or Security importance shall be dealt with by the Centre based on the recommendation of the concerned Coastal Zone Management Authority, except those located in CRZ-II (developed land areas) or CRZ-III (rural areas along coastline). Senior officials in the environment ministry said these changes are being made to reconcile the amendments introduced in various office memorandums and draft notifications in the past. “None of this is new. These had been introduced in a draft CRZ notification in 2011. Now they are being reconciled. But these will also help develop local tourism in untapped coastal locations,” said a senior environment ministry official who asked not to be named.

Another official said an office memorandum is expected this week which will explain the workflow for certain CRZ projects. “For example, the Director General of Hydrocarbon (DGH) had requested the environment ministry for making certain amendments in CRZ Notification 2019 for delegating the powers of giving CRZ clearance to the State Coastal Zone Management Authorities/State Governments for small infrastructure projects like exploratory oil and gas drilling located in CRZ-I and CRZ-IV areas. We will soon provide a note explaining how these minor exploration projects will be appraised. They will be assigned to the state coastal management authorities,” he added, asking not to be named.

The draft notification to bring in these amendments was issued by the environment ministry on November 1, 2021. The inter-tidal zone lies between high and low tide zones where land and sea meet. The intertidal zone is underwater during high tide and exposed during low tide conditions.

“The Central Government has received representations from different stakeholders viz. the State Governments and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas through Director General of Hydrocarbon for making certain amendments in Coastal Regulation Zone notification, 2019, inter-alia, for delegating the powers of giving Coastal Regulation Zone clearance to the State Coastal Zone Management Authorities or State Governments for small infrastructure projects located in CRZ-I and CRZ-IV areas, exempting exploratory drilling and associated facilities thereto except CRZ-IA areas (ecologically sensitive areas, geomorphological features like coral reefs etc) including the provision of temporary beach shacks as already available in Coastal Regulation Zone notification, 2011 as amended and expanding the said provision to all coastal states, allowing removal of sand bars by traditional communities under the provisions of the Coastal Regulation Zone notification, 2019 as already available through Office Memorandum dated the 9th June, 2011,” the notification states.

HT reported on Monday that major infrastructure projects have been planned in the ecologically fragile Great Nicobar. The Centre on November 11 granted environmental clearance to an International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT), a 450 MVA gas and solar power plant, an airport and associated townships over 166.1 sq km in Great Nicobar Island, according to documents seen by HT. The project will involve diversion of around 130.75 sq km of forest land in three phases. The forest loss is likely to be compensated for by the project proponent by taking up compensatory afforestation in Haryana’s Aravallis and in Madhya Pradesh if required.

HT reported on August 12 that the administration of Lakshadweep is in the process of developing high-end tourist facilities on several islands of the Union territory, which had witnessed a widespread protest last year against a proposed regulation that sought to develop the region as a major tourist destination.

“Lakshadweep administration has informed that they are engaged in development of sustainable eco-tourism projects at Kadmat, Minicoy and Suheli islands under the aegis of NITI Aayog,” Union tourism and culture minister G Kishan Reddy said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on August 8. Emphasising that the country’s coastline, including the region of Lakshadweep, has enormous potential to develop cruise tourism, both international and domestic, the union minister added: “To harness this, a task force has been constituted with secretary, ministry of tourism as the chairman and secretary, ministry of shipping as the co-chairman.”

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Experts said the notification may be meant to facilitate tourism along the coast and also adaptation activities for a better response to climate change impacts. The impact of such projects on the fragile ecology of inter-tidal and other critical coastal areas needs to be studied. “What may appear to be a routine exercise of regulatory reconciliation needs to be contextualized with how both central and state governments are envisioning coastal areas in economic policies. Coastal and marine areas are also spaces where governments are looking to attract partnerships for climate mitigation and adaptation projects. The amendments are an interplay with these ambitions and policy measures. The implications will be visible if one understands the expanding geographies where both infrastructure projects and tourism are being extending to. This includes the most ecologically fragile and socially isolated area, including islands, where a seemingly benign intervention like temporary shacks can have a transformative impact,” said Kanchi Kohli, legal researcher at Centre for Policy Research.

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