The enforcement of the Coastal Regulation Zone guidelines, as envisaged by the Central government, is expected to have widespread ramifications in the State.

A large number of constructions, both commercial and residential, have come up on the banks of rivers and water bodies across the State in violation of the guidelines. According to the CRZ provisions, all water bodies which are influenced by tidal action and have five parts per thousand salinity in the summer months will come under the purview of the CRZ.

Vembanad Lake has been declared as one of the Critically Vulnerable Coastal Areas of the country in the notification.

Almost all water bodies in the State are connected to the sea and influenced by tidal action. In these cases, the CRZ limit will be 100 metres or width of the water body towards the landward side, whichever will be less on either bank of the water body. No development activity, except the ones prescribed by the guideline, is permitted in the CRZ areas.

In the case of seafronts, the no-development zone will be 200 metres towards the landward side and in the remaining part up to 500 metres, regulated activities are permitted from the High Tide Line. The High Tide Line is defined as the line on the land up to which the highest water line reaches during the spring tide.

According to the CRZ notification, the distance up to which the tidal effects are experienced in water bodies shall be clearly identified and demarcated accordingly in the Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMPs).

In Kerala, the CZMP, prepared by the Centre for Earth Science Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, was approved by the Union Ministry for Environment and Forest in 1996.

The final draft stated that the State governments shall prepare the CZMP within six months and obtain approval from the Ministry.

On its part, the Ministry shall consider and approve the plans within three months from the date of receipt of the final plan. The CZMP of the State will have to be revised in the light of the new notification, it is pointed out.

Coastal zone management experts pointed out that the draft notification explicitly spelt out the enforcement mechanism regarding the violations.

It will be the responsibility of all State Coastal Zone Management Authorities to “identify the violations of CRZ notification, 1991, within a period of three months from date of issue of this notification and take necessary action in accordance with the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, within a period of six months from the date of issue of this notification.”

The new notification has empowered the State authorities to issue directives to any person, authority or officer to comply with its directives regarding CRZ guidelines. The authorities are also expected to act on such violations within six months of the notification and place them in public domain.

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