Fisherfolk edgy over move to ease CRZ norms

They fear proposed changes will lead to a rash of constructions impacting marine and coastal ecology

Coastal communities and fishers’ organisations are unsettled over the Centre’s move to replace the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification, 2011, with a new enactment allowing tourism and industrial activities along the country’s coasts and reducing the distance from the High Tide Line for housing and basic infrastructure.

The draft notification issued by the Centre last week to modify the CRZ norms have led to concerns over unsustainable development, increasing the vulnerability of coastal communities. Fishermen fear that the proposed changes would lead to a rash of constructions impacting the marine and coastal ecology and affecting their livelihood.

The draft notification is based on the recommendations of an expert committee set up by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to review the CRZ notification, 2011.

The committee led by Shailesh Nayak, former Director, Ministry of Earth Sciences, was constituted in 2014 after various States, including Kerala moved the Centre, seeking a dilution of the CRZ norms to take up development activities along the coast.

‘Recipe for disaster’

“Our worst fears have come true,” says T. Peter, general secretary, National Fishworkers Forum (NFF). “Opening up the coastal belt, including ecologically sensitive areas to uncontrolled development is nothing but a recipe for disaster. It is bound to jeopardise lives and livelihoods and worsen the threats posed by climate change and sea level rise.”

NFF fears that the draft notification is an attempt to create developable real estate by regularising past violations of CRZ norms. It points out that the notification itself is based on the flawed demarcation of the High Tide Line by the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management.

“It fails to uphold the housing rights of fishing communities, but allows a whole range of other users to access the coastline,” says Mr. Peter.

The forum also points out that the draft notification is based on the Coastal Zone Management Plans that are yet to be finalised by States.

Environmentalists feel that the draft notification had also ignored the shrill plea from scientists for a coastal protection strategy by distancing all developmental activities and creating a buffer zone for the interplay of land and sea.

Open to comments

The Centre for Policy Research, a New Delhi-based advocacy group, feels that the new draft regulations were finalised without a transparent consultation process. CPR had filed several RTI applications with the Ministry before the documents on the CRZ changes were made available.

The draft notification is open to comments from the public and stakeholders for 60 days.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 3:02:29 AM |

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