Fishers say proposed CRZ notification does not recognize their rights
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has made public its proposed coastal regulation zone (crz) notification. The draft, uploaded on the ministry website on September 13, would replace the existing coastal regulations of 1991. It has classified coastal land into four zones.
CRZ I will comprise ecologically sensitive areas like mangroves and mudflats; CRZ II will comprise developed areas; CRZ III will consist of undeveloped areas which are not classified ecologically sensitive and CRZ IV comprise territorial waters from low tide line to 12 nautical miles into the sea. Andaman and Nicobar islands and Lakshwadeep islands have been taken out of the purview of CRZ notification. A separate island protection notification was issued earlier this year for these islands on the recommendations of the committee headed by agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan to formulate coastal management policy following stiff resistance to the earlier draft notification (see 'Fishers at Bay', Down To Earth, December 31, 2008).
In addition to the four zones, the draft has marked four areas for special consideration—the CRZ areas in Greater Mumbai region, Goa and Kerala (backwaters) and the Sunderbans. The draft also lists activities prohibited in each zone, especially CRZ I while making an exception for the Navi Mumbai airport. The department of atomic energy's projects, information technology sez's and service industry, deemed non-polluting, would also be allowed in CRZ I areas.
The fisher community has rejected the draft. “It does not reflect our demands which were repeatedly put forth at the consultations. We want the draft to enshrine our right to live along the coastline and our right to livelihood from the coast,” said T Peter of the Kerala Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilaly Federation.
In April 2010, the ministry had issued a pre-draft CRZ notification which was opposed by the fishers (see 'Fishers reject new rules', Down To Earth, June 30, 2010). The current draft is almost identical to the pre-draft except that it incorporates the four areas requiring special consideration. The latest draft is open for public comments.
The environment ministry has, meanwhile, created a Society of Integrated Coastal Management which will be the nodal agency for mapping environmentally sensitive areas and demarcating hazard lines which will be a parameter for designating areas as CRZ I and CRZ II. The integrated coastal zone management project is currently in the pilot phase in three states and has been started with World Bank aid.
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