The CMZ notification

Published: Wednesday 31 December 2008

The CMZ notification

Key differences between CMZ and CRZ  
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Genesis and features of CMZ vis-a-vis the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 1991

Key features
Down to Earth Coastal areas categorized as

--CMZ I ecologically sensitive areas like coral reefs and mangroves

--CMZ II coastal municipalities, panchayats with more than 400 persons per sq km, ports, tourist areas and special economic zones. Cities like Mumbai will become part of this zone

--CMZ III open areas including coastal waters, excluding those classified as CMZ-I, II and IV

--CMZ IV inland territories of Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep and other offshore islands

Down to EarthThe draft defines coastal zone as one that includes "the area from the territorial waters limit (12 nautical miles measured from the baseline) including its seabed, the adjacent land area along the coast and inland water bodies influenced by tidal action, up to the landward boundary of the local self government or local authority abutting the sea coast..."

Down to Earth Make setback lines along the coast. It would be a line demarcated on the coast based on its vulnerability to sea-level rise and other hazards

Down to Earth Provision of a 32-member National Board for Sustainable Coastal Zone Management chaired by the Union Minister of Environment and Forests

Problem areas
Alleged by activists who have studied the draft notification

  • Zone categories (CMZ-I,II,III,IV)
  • Setback line
  • Monitoring CMZ
  • Fishers' livelihood

After 17 years
February 2005 Union Ministry of Environment and Forests' 13-member committee headed by M S Swaminathan reviews Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification and gives recommendations

September 2006 New legislation, based on Swaminathan committee recommendations, underway, says environment ministry

August 2007 No new coastal legislation developed, says ministry. If there was need for such a regulation, the ministry would draft it, ministry officials say in response to a right to information application. But activists manage to get an unofficial draft of the notification titled Coastal Zone Management, 2007

August 2007 onwards Demands to withdraw draft notification

October 2007 Ministry introduces concept note on the draft notification

November 23, 2007 Half-day meeting in Mumbai to discuss the concept note. Several objections are raised and the meeting concludes abruptly

May 1, 2008 CMZ Notification, 2008, released officially. Comments, objections and suggestions sought within 60 days

May 9, 2008 Ministry publishes amendment to the notification airport projects to be allowed on a "case to case basis"

July 2008 Ministry appoints Centre for Environment Education, Ahmedabad, to hold consultations

Aug 2008 Consultations in all coastal states

Sept 27, 2008 Last date for receiving comments on notification

CMZ, a blessing in disguise for CRZ violators?
Orissa's track record in implementing the CRZ notification is abysmal. Records suggest there are over 63 CRZ violations in the state. A lot of them are in the form of roads, beach properties and hotels. Along the Balasore-Bhadrak coast, prawn culturists rule the roost. Over 800 hectares (ha) in the Balasore-Bhadrak belt is under prawn culture, with an annual turnover of around Rs 60 crore.

Almost half of this farming violates the CRZ notification because it is done without leaving the 500 m distance from the high-tide line as specified in CRZ 1991. Lured by the prospects, businessmen from Balasore bought land in coastal villages for prawn culture. Subsequently, pollution became another issue.

Ramesh Nayak, one of the biggest prawn farmers of the area, admitted to discharging the water from his ponds into the Gomei river, a tributary of Baitarani.

"I started out in 2000 with less than one hectare and today I have over 16 ha under prawn culture. The water is pumped into the river and nobody bats an eyelid," he claimed. But the state's environment department had not received any complaints against such farms, said Bhagirathi Behera, director of the department. It is feared that these irregularities may be regularized considering the state is all for the new notification.

CRZ should be strengthened, said D P Rath, regional coordinator of Centre for Environment Education, the agency that organized national consultations. "It would be better to take some more time and review and refine the 1991 notification instead of coming up with something new like CMZ," said Rath who was in charge of the consultations in Orissa.

In coastal Tamil Nadu, 58 CRZ violations were registered between 1998 and 2008 but the number could be higher, said R Annamalai, director of the state's environment department.

Activists claimed it is common for developers to begin construction without clearance and then seek exemption. "CRZ is being scrapped for this and CMZ being brought in," said V Srinivasan, president of the Chennai Metro Union, a labour organization. Most prominent, but alleged, cases include

  • Constructions in CRZ I, north of Adyar estuary in Chennai
  • Road in CRZ-II in Thiruvanmiyur area of Chennai
  • State public works department constructing the governor's bungalow less than 20 metres from the high tide line on the Elliot's beach in Chennai
  • Elevated highway planned from Marina to Kottivakkam
  • Construction of a coastal road from Chennai to Kanyakumari in the pipeline
  • In Palavakkam, a CRZ-III area, Madras University has allotted sites for its staff on the beach
  • In Injambakkam panchayat, a CRZ-III area, farmhouses have come up within 20 metres of the high tide line
  • Shrimp farms in Nagapattinam.

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