Special Correspondent

Fishermen, NGOs seek strict implementation of CRZ stipulations

VISAKHAPATNAM: Fishermen, along with representatives of many NGOs, on Sunday urged the Central Government to scrap the recently-issued Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) notification and implement the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) stipulations, 1991, to safeguard their livelihood and the fragile coastal eco system.

At a meeting organised by the Keratam (wave) Network, the AP Traditional Fishermen’s Federation and the Visakha Traditional Fishermen’s Association here, T. Patanjali Sastry of the Environment Centre (Rajahmundry) said the concept of coastal management was not acceptable and strict regulation was required to save coastal environs.

One of the most insidious aspects of the CMZ notification was that an attempt was made in it to prove that the entire coast was not an ecologically fragile zone and that large stretches of the coastline were suitable for development.

“It is a perilous proposition based on Dr. Swaminathan’s report,” he said. The manner in which the CMZ notification was issued on May 1, giving two months time for raising objections, was also highly improper.

Extend deadline

“The English version of the notification has been placed in a website and no attempt has been made to apprise the fishermen and coastal communities of the contents of the notification in Telugu or other regional languages. By Monday, the deadline for raising objections ends. The government should at least extend the deadline and take up the requisite steps for an informed debate on the notification,” he said.

He also pleaded for a Marine Protection Act to save marine resources and the coastal communities. No special economic zones should be allowed along the coast and the coastal corridor and the petro-chemical region between Visakhapatnam and Kakinada should also be opposed on the same ground.

‘Irrational’

Former Energy Secretary E.A.S Sarma said the Union Government should give up on the CMZ notification. “For one thing, it is too complicated and it does not address the basic issues of saving the coastal environs and the livelihood of coastal communities. It is purported to be a scientific document, prepared on the basis of Dr. Swaminathan’s report, but in fact it is highly irrational and destructive,” he said.

Even the 1991 CRZ rules were being observed more in the breach than in adherence and more often than not it was the Government officials who were indulging in violation of the CRZ rules.

“We have moved the AP High Court several times,” he said.

President of the Fishermen’s Association Arjili Das and several others who spoke said rallies would be organised to register their protest and to educate the public.