Speedy development of beach destinations

In a move that is likely to upset environmental forums, the Tourism Department has submitted a proposal to the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA) seeking its intervention for some modifications in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms to facilitate fast development of potential beach tourism destinations along the coastline.

According to KCZMA sources, the proposal with details of expected relaxations and the areas that will commercially benefit through the modifications has been forwarded to the Union government.

‘Rules stringent’

In the proposal, the department finds that the regulatory guidelines of the CRZ notifications have affected the development of tourism in Kerala badly, though there have been huge investment potentials. Due to the stringent rules, only very little investment is coming up in the potential areas covering the 580-km of the coastline from Poovar to Bekal.

As per the project report, majority of the tourism destinations emerging in the State are in the rural coastal areas and they fall under CRZ-III and hence no development is possible within 200 m of the No Development Zone (NDZ) from the High Tide Line. This, according to the department, makes the destination unattractive to investors as well as tourists.

The department points out that as per Section 8 (i) II of the CRZ notification, buildings shall be permitted on the landward side of the existing road or on the landward side of the existing authorised structures. But, Annexure III of the notification, which describes the guidelines for development of beach resorts and hotels, imposes huge restrictions on tourism development in CRZ II area.

They point out that the 100-m NDZ for backwaters and tidal-influenced area makes backwater-related tourism too restrictive and unaffordable for the State.

In the proposal, modification of CRZ norms is mainly sought for the development of 13 beach stretches identified with a total length of 30 km from Poovar to Bekal falling under the CRZ III category. The beaches include Poovar, Anchuthengu, Kappil, Kollam, Thottappalli, Marari, Azeekkal, Cherai, Nattika, Kappad, Muzhappilangadu, Meenkunnu and Bekal.

In the urban area, the department suggests the amendment of existing CRZ norms in seven beach stretches covering Veli, Thirumullavaaram, Alappuzha, Kozhikode, Vadakara, Payyambalam, and Nileswaram. All these beaches fall under the CRZ II category and it is proposed to remove the applicability of Annexure III of CRZ Notifications 2011.

In backwaters too

In the case of backwaters too, the department has sought some “favourable” relaxations in the existing norms. The report criticises that the 100-m NDZ for backwaters and tidal influenced water bodies are imposing huge limitations in tourism investment. The 100-m wide NDZ is not viable to any investor, it argues.

The report that calls for urgent modifications of CRZ norms claims that it can open up new avenues and opportunities for the development of tourism and economy of the State. It also claims that the interventions proposed are very minimal and only 30 km beach stretch in the rural areas has been proposed for modification.