Badri Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, May 29 2018
NFF has planned a nationwide agitation on June 11 at block, village, district, state and national levels at all coastal states and in New Delhi
The National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) has rejected the draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification, 2018, which was made public by the union environment ministry on April 19, claiming it was against protecting biodiversity and ecology and stands in violations of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- This draft has been meticulously developed keeping in mind protection of ecologically sensitive areas, safeguarding aquatic system and marine life, plastic waste disposal, and simultaneously allowing ecotourism and development of coastal zones. Every stakeholder, including fishermen, has been brought on board before developing this exhaustive document. We will consider all objections and tally their merits,” said a senior official from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
- “Dr. Shailesh Nayak’s committee had gone around the country, across all coastal areas, understanding representations of different groups including fishermen who demanded relaxation of these norms for construction of jetties, building their homes closer to the sea and other demands. The notification does implement all of them but some of them have been relaxed. The fishermen should welcome this,” said Satish Gavai, additional chief secretary, state environment department and chairman, Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority.
Citing that the fishing community was the largest primary non-consumptive stakeholders and natural custodians of coastal natural resources, NFF, the national federation of state-level small and traditional fish workers’ unions of India with over one lakh members, rejected the new norms.
Members have planned a nationwide agitation, calling it as the ‘National Day of Action’, on June 11 at block, village, district, state and national levels at all coastal states and in New Delhi.
“From 1991 onwards, CRZ norms have undergone several changes that only aide builders and allow tourism in critically sensitive marine habitats, scaling back on safeguards for the coastlines by giving coastal infrastructure and tourism priority over coastal livelihoods,” said Thomas Peter, general secretary, NFF.
- Submitting a consolidated critique of the draft CRZ to the MoEFCC, in addition to reiterating the demands of the fishing communities to enact a national legislation that in principle and spirit reflects the provisions of the CRZ, 1991 notification
- Carry out a large scale mobilisation as a ‘National Day of Action’ on the June 11 at all coastal states, districts, villages and block level and at New Delhi
- Call for a meeting with the members of Parliament in New Delhi during the monsoon session
- Request the Parliamentary Standing Committee to raise questions regarding the draft CRZ, 18 notification
- (Source: NFF)
- Citizens can submit suggestions and objections to Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to J-615, Jal Block, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh Road, New Delhi -110003 before June 19, 2018.
“As against various protection clauses developed by the Indira Gandhi government as early as 1970’s, there has been dynamic shift in attitude towards protecting coastal areas and our livelihood to helping builders and developers to make money for themselves and the government.”
He added that NFF had already written to the union environment ministry to give them a date for hearing their objections in person.
HT had reported on April 20 that environmentalists had said that the new draft CRZ rules protects builders’ interest not coastal environment. The draft, prepared for India’s 7,500km coastline, is based on recommendations by a committee under the chairmanship of Dr Shailesh Nayak, after consulting coastal states and other stakeholders.
Some of the significant changes as per the draft include the applicability of CRZ distance to the land area or width of the creek from the high tide line (HTL) is now 50 metres, which has been reduced from earlier limit of 100 metres buffer zone. While exemptions in CRZ-IA areas (classified as most sensitive coastal zone) where no development activities shall be permitted to be carried out, on mangroves located in private land, no buffer zone is required to be kept anymore. Eco-tourism activities such as mangrove walks, tree huts, nature trails and other such activities will be allowed in these areas through the development of coastal zone management plans (CZMPs).
“The CRZ-I area is the sanctum for any coastal habitat. Opening this up spells doom for coastal areas, and the result will be witnessed with rising sea levels,” said Peter.
NFF came to the decision of unanimously rejecting the draft after a national consultation held at Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) auditorium in Mumbai and was attended by NFF member union representatives, government officials, scientists, civil society organisations, lawyers, researchers, and environmentalists. “Representations have been made from every coastal state about the disastrous impacts these rules can bring to them. We will present it to the central government,” said Peter.
SOME RECOMMENDATIONS MADE PART OF THE DRAFT COASTAL REGULATION ZONE (CRZ) 2018 NOTIFICATION
The new draft CRZ notification has major recommendation which would boost tourism development in coastal areas of the country which remains untapped due to stringent regulatory framework.
In the CRZ II areas as well, the proposed guidelines recommends development of vacant plots in designated areas for construction of beach resorts, hotels subject to guidelines. Temporary tourism facilities shall be permissible in the beaches falling in CRZ II areas.
CRZ III areas have been divided into two categories – CRZ III a and b, wherein for CRZ IIIa, the distance between the HTL and land has been reduced from 200m to 50m
In areas falling under CRZ III, wherever there is a national or state highway passing through the NDZ of CRZ-III areas, temporary tourism facilities such as toilets, change rooms, drinking water facility and temporary shacks can be taken up on the seaward side of the road.
In case the construction of such plant is inevitable in a mangrove area, a minimum three times the mangrove area affected/destroyed /cut during the construction process shall be taken up for compensatory plantation of mangroves (used to be five times in 2011 notification)