May 26 2017
The new MCRZ notification, which is yet to be finalised, will replace the existing CRZ notification, 2011, which presently regulates all activities along the over 7,000 km long coastline of the country
The Centre, as part of its new coastal rules, has proposed to ease tourism and real-estate development, construction of coastal roads, and delegate greater powers to local planning authorities for realty development, a draft of the Marine Coastal Regulation Zone (MCRZ) notification has revealed.
The new MCRZ notification, which is yet to be finalised, will replace the existing CRZ notification, 2011, which presently regulates all activities along the over 7,000 km long coastline of the country. These changes are in line with recommendations of the Shailesh Nayak committee, that was tasked with reviewing the 2011 notification in 2014.
DNA has reviewed a copy of the seven-page draft MCRZ notification that was accessed under Right to Information Act, by non-profit organisation Centre for Policy Research.
While the draft notification has not proposed to alter the fundamental classification of coastal regulation zones, the high-tide line (HTL) or low-tide line (LTL), it has used a new methodology to map the HTL and LTL’s which is yet to be revealed. The 2011 notification categorises coastal areas as CRZ-I, II, III and IV based on their vulnerabilities and the existing development. The draft MCRZ notification has retained this classification, though, it has reduced the ambit of prohibited activities in MCRZ-I, II and III.
For instance, in the MCRZ-I zone, which is the intertidal zone that includes ecologically sensitive areas, the draft notification proposes to allow sewage treatment plants, coastal roads, national interest projects and infrastructure, tourism related facilities such as walkways and stilts.
Interestingly, the draft notification said that it would allow reclamation for coastal roads. This exception has come in the backdrop of environment ministry’s approval for the coastal road in Mumbai. This proposed change would now also allow other states to reclaim land for coastal road projects without seeking special permissions.
For MCRZ-II zone, which are urban built-up areas near the coasts, the draft says the development shall be regulated by local authorities as per prevailing local laws, and the state governments will be required to prepare coastal zone management plans (CZMP).
In MCRZ-III, that are relatively lesser developed areas close to coasts, the draft proposes to allow dwelling units for local inhabitants including fishermen, basic infrastructure. Marketing facilities too will be provided with 50 metres buffer from HTL.
The populated areas that are in MCRZ-III areas can be declared as MCRZ-II if the concered state governments prepare the CZMPs of the said area incorporating all requisite environmental safeguards, disaster management facilities and carries out environmental and social impact assessments.
At the heart of the Centre’s push to replace the existing notification is a long-standing demand from states such as Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka to ease the coastal norms to make way for more real-estate and tourism development. While in 2011, the United Progressive Alliance replaced the notification’s 1991 version, it had stayed away from relaxing the norms