The National Fishermen's Federation (NFF) has expressed displeasure over the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification (CRZ), 2011, in its present form, and accused Union Minister for Environment and Forests (MoEF) Jairam Ramesh of having taken the organisation for a ride by not incorporating some of the provisions that had been agreed upon in the talks between the Ministry and NFF representatives.

Matanhy Saldanha, chairman of the NFF, on Monday addressed a letter to the Minister, expressing shock over some of the provisions of the CRZ 2011, when it was finally released on January 7.

He said the NFF might be compelled to rethink its decision to hold back an agitation if the Minister failed to respond to its queries and explain the lapses.

“After our meeting with you on December 29, and the subsequent discussions with Dr. Senthilvel to finalise all the agreed points, the NFF team went back with a sense of great achievement and the belief that [it could] work with the MoEF on the proper implementation of the CRZ as well as many other issues of mutual concern. However, the notification, when it came, has made us look foolish and given us a feeling that we have been taken for a ride,” said Mr. Saldanha in the letter, a copy of which was made available to The Hindu.

The NFF leader said he was not talking about the provisions over which NFF had serious disagreements right from the beginning, related to nuclear power, FSI (floor space index) concessions for slum rehabilitation and renovation of old buildings.

“As suggested by you, we had agreed to disagree on [these provisions] and focus on provisions the Ministry itself was willing to negotiate. So, we are only talking about provisions that were agreed upon but not incorporated in the final notification,” Mr. Saldanha stated.

He alleged that the concession to fishing communities for expanding their housing into the 100-200 metre-zone of CRZ-III was diluted and distorted by having been reworded as ‘applicable to traditional coastal communities including fishing communities'. The implications of this were serious for the coast and fishing communities.

“The provision of not less than three representatives of fishing community organisations in the NCZMA (National Coastal Zone Management Authority of India) and SCZMAs, personally agreed to by you, has not been incorporated,” Mr. Saldanha pointed out. The agreement to rename CVCA (Critically Vulnerable Coastal Areas) as CMCR (Community Managed Coastal Reserve) and incorporate NFF suggestions on the CMCR was dropped. This was more than an issue of nomenclature.

“‘Roads on stilts' is something that the MoEF had agreed to drop in the note presented to the NFF in their very first meeting in December It now finds a place in the notification, contrary to our agreement,” he said.