Kerala would be given special consideration when the new coastal zone regulations are framed, said Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests. Talking to media persons, Mr. Ramesh said that the unique features of the State like biodiversity, ecology and the density of population will be taken into account while formulating the regulations for the State. The Swaminathan Committee which prepared the Coastal Zone Management report had suggested that Mumbai should be considered separately, he said.
The Minister was in Kochi to attend the final session of public consultation with fishermen and the local communities on the Coastal Regulation Zone rules of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest. Identifying the major issues plaguing the State, Mr. Ramesh said that there were numerous instances of clear and visible violations of Coastal Regulation Zone guidelines in the no development zones of the State. Indiscriminate reclamation of water bodies, discharge of untreated effluents violating all the norms and the presence of a large fishermen population dependent on fisheries for livelihood security are the key concerns of the State, he said.
The government proposes to bring in a Sustainable Coastal Zone Protection regulation (SCZP) and its draft will be published in the website of the Ministry on March 15. The stakeholders will be given 60 days to submit their comments and views on the draft, he said.
The new regulations will not disturb the traditional rights of fishermen and their families. The single most important feature of the SCZP will be the protection of the fishing rights of traditional fishermen. Another draft law for protecting the rights of traditional fishermen on the lines of the Forest Rights Protection Act was forwarded to the Union Agriculture Minister for his views, he said.
World Bank Project
The Ministry hopes to get clearance for a Rs. 1200 crore World Bank project for Integrated Coastal Zone Management where all the violations of coastal zone regulations will be mapped using satellite images. The authorities have already started mapping the coastal belts of Gujarat and parts of Tamil Nadu and Goa using satellite. Of the Rs. 1200 crore, the Sundarbans of West Bengal and Orissa will be allotted Rs. 200 crore each, Rs. 300 crore for Gujarat and Rs. 100 crore for Tamil Nadu, he said.
“Kerala has not been included in the project so far. If the State government is interested, Kerala would also be considered. I know the mindset of Kerala and hence decided to go slow in case of the State,” Mr. Ramesh said.
Later, Mr. Rameh said that there was no controversy in leaving the State out to the project, which was conceived with West Bengal, Orissa and Gujarat in mind. The case of Kerala could be considered later, he said.