We welcome the consultative process initiated by the Ministry on the content of the proposed CRZ 2010, through issuance of a pre-draft notification, and particularly the fact that the Ministry has translated it into all coastal languages.
After going through the content of the pre-draft, however, we feel that it is contrary to the demands of fishworker groups and other civil society groups working on coastal issues, following the issuance of the draft CMZ Notification in 2008. These demands were also clearly articulated in the consultations authorized by the MoEF, organized by the CEE, over the past one year.
In our opinion the present pre-draft is ineffective both in:
(a) Strengthening the coastal regulation regime for long-term protection of coastal ecosystems
(b) Ensuring better recognition of the rights of fishing communities to their habitats
We have undertaken a detailed analysis of the pre-draft Notification to arrive at this conclusion. We, therefore, reject the pre-draft notification in totality. These are the important elements of our critique:
Weakening rather than strengthening coastal protection
The overall effect of the proposals contained in the pre-draft notification is to weaken coastal protection rather than strengthen it. These are the ways this is achieved.
1. Legitimising all previous dilutions of CRZ and adding to the pressure on coastal eco-systems
One of the foundations of the CRZ regime is the principle that only activities that require water front and foreshore facilities should be permitted. However, since 1991, this principle has been diluted with a number of amendments. The CRZ-2010 seems to have become an opportunity to provide additional exemptions and make some more activities permissible. Some of the important additions over the years that do not conform to the principle are mentioned herein below.
(i) Projects of the Department of Atomic Energy (read nuclear power plants): The concept note starts with the acknowledgement that 25% of India’s population lives within 50 kms of the coast. It is unimaginable that the Govt can permit any nuclear power plants within the 50 km zone where there is such a high population density and the consequences of any failures will be catastrophic. However, the CRZ allows nuclear power plants within the 500 m zone and even in CRZ-I areas. Such callous disregard for human safety and environment is being legitimised by CRZ-2010.
(ii) Non polluting industries in the field of Information Technology and other service industries in the CRZ of SEZs: This is clearly a ridiculous insertion which has no logic attached to it. It is applicable even to CRZ-I areas. Is pollution the only reason for restriction of activities and construction in the CRZ? Pollution is merely one tiny objection to setting up of SEZs as there are various other issues involved including the fact that SEZ does not come with the purview of the existing laws and are governed by something entirely different. Under the garb of SEZ, mega housing projects and heavy industrialisation in coastal stretches is a very strong possibility and hence there should be no scope absolutely for any SEZ within the CRZ area.
(iii) Generation of power by non-conventional energy sources in non CRZ-I areas: A blanket exemption that is difficult to accept. Why should these have to come up within the narrow 500 m coastal zone? Unless it is a wave energy or tidal energy plant and unless it is in a large mangrove area like the Sundarbans where local communities do not have access to the grid electricity?
(iv) Storage of petroleum products, fertilizers and chemicals in non CRZ-I areas: There are obviously logistical issues in storage of goods like these that get transported via sea, but the justification to store such toxic stuff in the 500 m coastal zone has never been provided.
(v) Greenfield airport in New Mumbai: The most brazen insertion in the CRZ till date is the permission for a “Greenfield airport” in Navi Mumbai and that too in mangrove area (CRZ-I). Of course, the MoEF has made this conditional to a study. Still, this highlights the dangers of not going by the cardinal principle of water front or foreshore requirement. More powerful Ministries are able to push in their agenda ignoring the needs of the coastal protection.
(vi) Exemptions to tourism projects: Tourism has been one of the more contentious issues with permission given to tourism over time to operate within the 200-500 m zone on the coast in CRZ-II and III. Despite serious objections, tourist resorts are only subject to the restriction that they are limited to “designated areas”. This is just a fig leaf as there seems to be no restriction on designating areas by concerned authorities.
(vii) Housing projects—colonizing the coast?: In the name of harmonising the provisions of the EIA notification and the CRZ, from out of the blue, come provisions for housing projects in the CRZ, with the SCZMAs having the power to grant clearances for projects up to a built up area of 20,000 sq.m and the MoEF for projects above that. Why should housing projects be allowed in the CRZ? How can such large projects be permitted within the narrow 500 m zone? For whom are these housing projects meant? Will the height limit of 9 m for dwelling of fishermen and for tourist resorts also apply to these housing projects? A provision for housing projects within the CRZ will lead to a total takeover of coastal space and the resultant displacement of fishing communities.
(viii) Regulating coastal protection measures—a silver lining: It must be acknowledged that one good regulation that makes an entry is that of regulating coastal protection measures and structures that alter the coastline. This will hopefully put an end to the racket of “sea-walls” and the growth or groynes and breakwaters constructed without any rigorous study. However, it is worth noting that the MoEF has not yet thought of provisions to rehabilitate damaged coastlines.
2. Failing to recognise and act on the fact that “permissible activities”, if not limited, can destroy the coast.
The Swaminathan Committee recognised the “cumulative impacts” that ports can have and recommended a moratorium on ports till a study is conducted. Before we discuss how the MoEF and the CRZ-2010 handles the issue of ports, it is important to recognise that cumulative impacts are there for all activities, not just ports. This has been largely ignored by CRZ 2010. It still operates on the basis of individual project clearances without fixing any limit for each type of activity or for all activities as a whole. The cumulative impacts of a few activities and how the CRZ 2010 handles these activities, are worth mentioning.
(i) Port development—shifting cultivation?: The way CRZ 2010 handles the issue of the anarchic growth of ports is surprising. Instead of following up on the idea of cumulative impact assessment and fixing limits to port development, CRZ 2010 comes up with the idea that ports can be permitted in low erosion coastlines, regulated in medium erosion coastlines and avoided in high erosion coastlines. There are a number of problems with this formulation. For one, it assumes that erosion is the only issue with ports. There are many other environmental impacts due to ports. There are also serious issues of displacement of fishing communities and negative impact on their livelihoods. Even, if we take erosion as an issue, it is important to recognise that ports and other coastal structures (including, ironically, measures taken for coastal protection) themselves contribute significantly to coastal erosion. Some of the coasts that are currently considered “high eroding” are in that state mostly due to unscientific interventions made on the coast rather than by nature itself. It is therefore ridiculous to say that ports should be allowed in “low eroding” coasts. It sounds similar to shifting cultivation in agriculture, when farmers move to new fertile lands after exhausting the fertility of old lands. Only, fallow lands—left idle for sufficient time—will regain fertility, while eroded coasts will not became stable if they are left alone.
(ii) Power plants (nuclear and thermal): With our economy becoming power hungry to maintain growth rates, power projects are being proposed in large numbers. Unfortunately, both thermal and nuclear plants are sought to be put up along the coast in large numbers. While the availability of large amount of cooling water from the sea is an attraction to both thermal and nuclear plants, the import of coal from South East Asia is an added advantage to thermal plants. The sudden increase in proposals along the coast is scary. Nagapattinam, Kutch, Sindhudurg, East Godavari, etc., are going to have a chain of thermal power projects coming up in the near future. Even if the foreshore facilities needed for power plants are a permissible activity and the plant itself is presumably outside CRZ, the enormous harm such a large number of coastal power plants and the jetties they need cannot be ignored. The large quantities of water that will be drawn on a daily basis and the heated water that will be released back to the sea all over the coast can potentially finish off coastal fishing, unless severe limits are prescribed to establishment of such units along the coast.
(iii) Tourism: When the tourist industry sought amendments to CRZ in the early 1990s, it justified concessions on the ground that only an insignificant 20 km of coastline would be needed for resorts along India’s long coastline. However, the rapid development of the tourism sector now indicates that even the entire coastline of India may not be enough for the ambitions of the tourism departments and entrepreneurs willing to invest in tourist facilities. The current stipulation of “designated areas” is weak and needs to be clearly quantified in some way to avoid a total takeover of the coast, especially in states where tourism is booming.
(iv) Desalination: This is an activity pumping in large amounts of sea water and pumping back water with low salt content. It can also cause harm to fishing, if not properly regulated and restricted.
(v) Industries: Industries of all kinds, individually or through SEZs are coming up all along the coast and even if some of them are only seeking water front or foreshore facilities in the CRZ area, they also exert a cumulative impact and not much is known about this.
Thus CRZ-2010 does not address the problem of cumulative impacts of permissible activities and given the increased demand to undertake these activities, will end up weakening coastal protection by this omission.
3. Reclassification as route for opening up more areas for “development”?
The biggest danger lurking in the CRZ-2010 is that it is a new notification and not an amendment to CRZ-91. More importantly, it involves changes in the CRZ zoning through the deletion of islands and the inclusion of aquatic areas (plus the additional area that may come in wherever the hazard line is beyond 500 m). This has given the opportunity to do a completely new classification of the coast. Instead of merely revising old CZMPs to include aquatic areas, the notification talks about fresh CZMPs to be drawn up for the entire coast. No explanation is provided in the concept note or pre-draft notification for this.
While HTL mapping across the entire coast is a welcome exercise, drawing up an entirely new CZMP will mean that there is a possibility that some of the CRZ-I areas can be re-classified as CRZ-II or III and many CRZ-III areas can be converted into CRZ-II areas. In the current CRZ regime, conversion of areas from one category to anther is not easy. It needs to go up to NCZMA for approval and approval depends on the status of that area in 1991. For instance, for conversion of CRZ-III to II, it needs to be shown that the area was already substantially built up in 1991 itself. Another example would be a mangrove area, classified as CRZ-I, but subsequently de-forested illegally. In the current regime, this cannot be reclassified as CRZ-II or III as the 1991 position would hold good. If CRZ-2010 provisions are applied, this land could very well be re-classified as CRZ-II or III. Thus the idea of new CZMPs opens the door for reclassifying areas and increased industrialisation and urbanisation of the coast.
Till now, the CZMPs prepared in 1996 on the basis of 1991 benchmarks, are the basis for deciding on whether certain activities can be permitted in a particular area or not. The 15 year-old CZMPs have become a hurdle for many ambitious projects on the coast. In some states like Gujarat this has been resolved by the CZMPs just disappearing or not being accessible to the public. The reclassification solves these problems faced by the violators! More interestingly, reclassification is being made into a virtue by providing for periodic re-classification—every five years. If CMZ attempted a wholesale opening up of the coast, CRZ-2010 will kill it in instalments.
4. Hazard line—A haphazard provision
The hazard line, a part and parcel of the discredited CMZ regime, makes a side-door entry, if not a back-door entry, into CRZ-2010. The concept note makes the masterly statement “hazard mapping mechanism to be revised” and then talks about the hazard line to be drawn up based on certain parameters with a view to provide safeguards to infrastructure and habitations of local communities. There is very little clarity on how the hazard line will work and how it will do what is supposed to do. Appendix-I to the pre-draft notification has just a sub title called “Hazard mapping” with no contents.
The pre-draft notification provisions relating to the hazard lines are terse and incomprehensible. While it is clear that in areas where the hazard line falls landward of the 500 m zone, the CRZ area will include that extra area. What is not clear is what sort of regulatory regime will apply in this case. If it is CRZ-I, will this area also become CRZ-I? If it is CRZ-II or III, what regulations will apply to this extra piece of land? In the instance where the hazard line falls seaward of the 500 m line, we get the impression that the area between the hazard line and the 500 m line will be de-regulated and only normal town and country planning rules will apply. If this reading is correct, this goes completely against the understanding of dropping CMZ and using the 500 m line as a constant for the purpose of regulation.
Given that the Ministry has publicly announced that it has World Bank funding for drawing up the Hazard line, it appears as if the Ministry is introducing the line into the CRZ to justify or legitimise its commitments to the World Bank without providing a proper justification for the line and a clear and acceptable explanation as to how it would be used. WFFP strongly rejects the inclusion of the hazard line in the CRZ.
The same game to legitimise some of the decisions of the Ministry is visible the way the National Institute for Sustainable Coastal Zone Management is deliberately woven into the text of the notification. If the Ministry has the authority to set up such an institute, why should it try to manufacture public consent for it by mentioning it without any particular reason in the notification?
5. CRZ-IV—water, water, everywhere, no regulation in sight!
The inclusion of aquatic areas in the CMZ was rejected by the NFF. However, when it was proposed to be included in the CRZ regime by the Swaminathan Committee, we agreed. This was based on the belief that the aquatic areas will receive protection from various interventions that are gradually destroying the aquatic eco-system. The health of the marine, estuarine and backwater eco-systems are very important for fishing communities.
However, CRZ 2010 is totally disappointing in the way it has handled the aquatic zone. The section on CRZ-IV, which now represents the aquatic areas, has virtually no new regulation that can be attributed to the inclusion of aquatic areas. The only regulation mentioned is that no untreated sewage, effluents or solid waste shall be let off or dumped. This is not a new provision and was already part of the old CRZ without the aquatic areas being included.
The only other provision in the CRZ-IV section is the non-regulation of fishing activities. This is a misleading provision as what the Ministry means is that fishing activities will not be regulated under CRZ but under other legal instruments like the State Marine Fishing Regulation Acts, Wildlife Protection Act, etc.
Provisions that deal with corals, sea-grass beds and breeding grounds for fish were already part of CRZ-I and hence have no particular relevance in justifying the CRZ-IV.
However, it should be noted that a general provision found in the general list of prohibited activities deals with reclamation. This means that reclamation of the aquatic areas is prohibited and this is welcome.
If the inclusion of aquatic areas in the CRZ should make any sense, then there should be some regulations to justify it. Some of the important activities that need regulation include petroleum drilling and oil & natural gas production. While there is a need for petroleum products for the development of the nation (as well as for fishing itself), it is treated as a holy cow and all the environmental damage done by the petroleum sector is ignored and fishermen are already suffering with most of the sea areas being leased out to petroleum companies. Likewise, oil spillage and pollution by ships at sea is affecting marine life. If there are other laws to regulate all this, then why create CRZ-IV?
6. Special dispensations: a hotchpotch with no discernable common logic or thread
The section dealing with special dispensations is unconvincing and opens the door for many such dispensations. It must be mentioned that that special dispensations were not recommended by the Swaminathan Committee, except for the cautious recommendation that the Ministry must carefully weigh its options for dealing with the issue of renovation of flats in Mumbai. The consultations also did not throw up any strong demand for special dispensations. Hence this is a dubious insertion that has the potential to wreck the CRZ. What is to prevent other states or cities from asking for similar dispensations and will the coalition Governments at the centre be able to resist them?
(i) CRZ-V or special dispensation?: The concept note says that Mumbai, Goa and Kerala will all come under CRZ-V. However, reading the pre-draft notification gives the impression that we are not talking of CRZ-V but a special dispensation in each of these geographical locations while retaining the current CRZ classification.
(ii) Mumbai—weak and contradictory logic: The notification mentions that Mumbai needs to be given special dispensation on account of: (i) degradation of mangroves, (ii) discharge of untreated effluents and solid wastes and (iii) need to provide decent houses to the poor section of the people. By this logic every coastal city in India should be given a special dispensation!
(iii) Only for Mumbai?: The long list of provisions made for Mumbai is mainly made of items that seem to be relevant all over India, not just Mumbai. For instance, (a) mangrove mapping and protection, (b) protection of areas of archaeological importance and heritage sites including island forts, (c) prohibition of location of disposal of conventional solid waste (is there any unconventional solid waste?), (d) measures to protect structures and habitations on the seaward side of the hazard line and (e) no dredging or mining in CRZ I area. A lot of unnecessary clauses to create an impression that the poor Mumbai is being given some concessions but a lot of additional burden at the same time!
(iv) Protecting Maharashtra Govt from contempt of court?: One of the weird formulations of the special dispensation provisions for Mumbai is the exhortation by the notification to Maharashtra Govt to implement court orders regarding mangrove mapping and protection of mangroves. Is the Maharashtra Govt in need a MoEF notification to know that it should implement court orders? Is it to protect the Maharashtra Govt from contempt of court?
(v) Roads on stilts: An interesting provision is to allow the construction of roads on stilts over mangroves in Mumbai. This appears to be an attempt to reconcile Bombay’s need for roads with the need to protect the remaining mangroves. What needs to be asked is whether construction of roads on stilts, with only negligible impact on mangroves, a real possibility? Or is it just a fiction to allay the fears of those who wish to protect mangroves? Another question: is this is meant only for Mumbai? This provision has already found its way into the exemptions given under the general section on prohibited activities within CRZ. By implication, this provision will apply across the entire coast.
(vi) Protecting builder lobbies and slum lords?: The real intention of the special dispensation to Mumbai is revealed in the set of provisions that deal with concessions for constructions by builders within the CRZ area. Though the concept note talks only about 136 slums within the CRZ areas of Greater Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, the special dispensation provided by the notification is much wider in scope. It includes (a) provision of “re-development” of “specific buildings”, and (b) slum rehabilitation schemes for slum dwellers. This needs a bit more of analysis.
(vii) Redevelopment of specific buildings: It is true that the Swaminathan Committee has recognised the problem of redevelopment of old buildings in Mumbai, but it has not actually recommended any concessions. It has only asked the Govt to carefully consider whether concessions can be given to specific buildings in specific areas. Has the Govt made any study of the specific buildings and specific areas? Has it looked into the implications of giving this concession? Has it looked into the possibility of public finance to avoid the problem of increasing the FAR/FSI in CRZ areas for redevelopment of these “specific buildings” as suggested by the Swaminathan Committee? Unless it provides adequate information to justify this concession, is it not creating the wrong impression that it is acting on the Swaminathan Committee recommendations?
(viii) Slum rehabilitation—an end to the koliwadas?: The proposal to undertake slum rehabilitation has not been recommended by the Swaminathan Committee. In fact the Committee has quoted at length objections from the fishing community regarding such a move. Has the Ministry conducted any study to check whether the fishing community fears are justified? Is this provision meant for any specific slums or is this a provision for ever? What does “local regulations” mean for slum development in terms of FAR and FSI? Slums within CRZ are deliberate creations of slum lords who are linked to builders and who in turn are well networked with powerful politicians. This concession will lead to handing over of the high value Bombay coast to builders and end in the further marginalisation of the fishing communities and the destruction of the original settlements of Mumbai—the Koliwadas.
(ix) Townships in the CRZ?: The special provisions to Mumbai also mention that construction and township projects above 20,000 sq.m will need MoEF clearance while smaller projects can be cleared by local authorities. Why this provision? Does this mean that in addition to the “specific buildings” and “slum clearance” projects, there will be other housing projects within the CRZ in Mumbai?
(x) Kerala—special dispensation for backwater islands or the entire coast?: Both the concept note and the notification create an impression that Kerala is being given special concessions in the case of “backwater islands”. However, this does not seem to be case and the entire Kerala coast is getting a special dispensation. One concession to Kerala is to allow construction of dwelling units of “local communities” beyond 50 m with the permission of Panchayats. In the case of the “backwater islands”, the CRZ is being reduced from 500 m to 50 m. The concession to all local communities to build in the 50-200 m zone is to invite problems for the fishing communities who are precariously placed on the coast and competing with various interests for coastal space. Anyone in Kerala who buys land on the coast will automatically become part of the local community and get Panchayat permission for construction. The entire Kerala coast will virtually become a CMZ-II with a completely built up area.
(xi) Goa: The special dispensation for Goa is simple—reconstruction and repairs of all local community dwellings in Goa are allowed within the CRZ area. This is however padded by a number of redundant provisions. Here, like in Kerala, the objection is that fishing communities who need to be on the coast are clubbed with the rest under the generic term “local communities”.
(xii) Goa—Khazan lands to be protected or “managed”?: While the idea of bringing Khazan lands in Goa under the regime to protect their use for paddy cultivation, the idea of preparing “management” plans sounds fishy. Khazan lands needs to protected for the environment service they provide in protecting the ground water from becoming saline.
(xiii) Biospheres, ecologically important areas or CVCAs?: The concept note explains that bio-sphere areas that have a sizeable population have special problems and a special dispensation needs to be given to them. However, the notification itself does not talk about biospheres but about a new category called “ecologically important areas”. This seems to be a new term distinct from eco-sensitive areas that have been listed in the CRZ-I. Further, it goes to say that these ecologically important areas will be declared as Critically Vulnerable Coastal Areas! Are biospheres being renamed CVCAs for being ecologically important?
(xiv) What is common to the CVCAs?: The list of locations is somewhat difficult to interpret from the point of view of commonality. If one goes by the concept note, the intention is to provide some relief to people trapped in biospheres that are CRZ-I areas. However, with the exception of Sundarbans, it is not clear that any of the other areas listed have people struggling due to CRZ norms, more than people in other parts of the coast. Perhaps, Coringa in E.Godavari has similarities to Sundarbans on account of a mangrove estuarine system that covers over 200 sq.km. In the rest of the areas listed, the issue seems to be more of industries, ports, SEZs and other infrastructure projects that are destroying the biosphere. The Gulf of Kutch marine national park, the first of its kind in India is being destroyed by ports and petroleum pipe lines.
(xv) Who will benefit from CVCAs and management plans?: If integrated management plans need to be made for CVCAs, what exactly are the implications? Has the Ministry studied the specific problems in each of the areas listed? Will the CRZ regulations be held in abeyance and everything will depend on the plans, as was visualised in CMZ and now in the IPZ? If so, it will only be the industries that benefit and not local communities
(xvi) What about other laws?: The biospheres, national parks, sanctuaries, etc. are all constituted under other laws. Will the CRZ notification prevail in case of conflicts?
The entire special dispensation regime proposed in CRZ-2010 smacks of weak analysis/rationale, mixing up of issues, confused objectives, obfuscation of real motives, and completely arbitrary solutions. It is better to dispense with the special dispensations and deal with problems that need to be solved with appropriate rules that will stand rigorous interrogation.
6. Abandoning the islands
The CRZ for island territories is being dispensed with and replaced with IPZ. The NFF has already objected to the IPZ notification as it dispenses with coastal regulation and replaces it with “management”. It is important to mention this while discussing CRZ-2010. NFF strongly objects to the island territories being taken out of the CRZ regime.
7. CRZ Implementation—new provisions, but…..
An effort has been made in CRZ-2010 to improve the implementation of the CRZ. These include the following provisions: (i) streamlining procedure for grant of clearances, (ii) provisions for transparency with regard to applications, clearances, compliance reports, violations, etc, (iii) empowering the SCZMAs and NCZMA with powers under the EPA to take action against violators of CRZ, (iv) a time bound plan by States and UTs to deal with pollution of coastal areas and waters with adequate budget and (v) asking SCZMAs to identify all violations within three months and to take action within six months.
However, serious doubts persist about the ability of the Ministry to enforce many of these provisions, even if one grants that it is serious about enforcement. These are the concerns:
(i) Practicality of deadlines and proposed action: State Govts and local bodies are very much part of violations including the dumping of untreated sewage. Does MoEF have the clout to bring them to book? Is it possible to get states to actually clean up the effluents within a period of two years as mentioned? Did not the CRZ-91 also say something similar and fail miserably? Is it humanly possible to identify all violations within 3 months? What sort of action can one expect—mere notices or actual demolitions, fines, etc.?
(ii) Composition of SCZMAs and NCZMAs: The SCZMAs and the NCZMA are packed with bureaucrats and persons obliged to Govt in many ways. Very few of them even know the ground realities and have no options but to go by what is provided through official channels. Very rarely are there voices of dissent and they are quickly silenced due to lack of support. The composition of these bodies need to strengthened with stronger grass roots representatives and fishing community leaders committed to environment and livelihood protection. More civil society voices should be part of these set-ups.
(iii) Functioning of SCZMAs and NCZMA: The Ministry must get a proper study done on the functioning of these bodies and the reasons for their failures and to develop a package of measures to rectify them. Without that all quick-fixes will not work.
(iv) Ignoring special status of fishing villages and gaunthans: One of the dangers of the exercise to book violations will be that technically many of the dwelling units in fishing villages and gaunthans may also be in violation of CRZ, if strictly applied. Unless the exemption to them is clearly specified, local authorities will deliberately target them as a means to sabotage the entire process of booking violations.
CRZ-2010—Failing the Fishing Community
The second rationale for changes to CRZ-91 was the understanding the needs of the fishing communities are not taken care of adequately and there is a need to ensure that this happened. Looking at the provisions of CRZ-2010, one can only say that it has failed on this count also.
The CRZ-2010 provides the following specific provisions for fishing communities: (i) permission to double the number of dwellings in the 200-500 m zone of CRZ-III with 2010 as the cut-off year, and (ii) a list of facilities/activities related to fishing that are permitted in the 0-200 m of CRZ-III.
Ignoring rights, providing limited concessions
The CRZ-2010 is still in the business of providing some concessions to fishing communities rather than acknowledge their rights. This despite the fact that the Ministry has already accepted that the rights of fishing communities to coastal areas needs to be recognized, as also recommended in Final Frontier. In this context the CRZ should at least do what is within the Ministry’s purview vis-à-vis rights. NFF has clearly sought provisions in CRZ authorising fishing hamlet sabhas to take decisions on dwelling units and livelihood facilities subject to certain constraints or limits. Instead, CRZ-2010 has consigned fishing communities to a 200-500 m zone ghetto in CRZ-III.
The activities permitted in the 0-200 m zone of CRZ-III areas is not complete, but NFF sees no point in negotiating the list at the moment as it is based on the attitude of providing concessions, not rights.
Eliminating fishermen from CRZ-I and II
Going by the provisions of CRZ-I and II, fishermen have no real place in them. In CRZ-I in the name of ecology, fishermen have no rights while environmentally risky activities are allowed under the logic that they need water front or foreshore facilities. In CRZ-II, the fishermen are treated on par with all other occupants of the coast. This would automatically lead to their gradual elimination by as the rich buy out the poor fishermen lands or make use of their lack of formal title deeds. Unless the MoEF recognises that the fishing community needs the water front and foreshore facilities and have historic rights in this regard, the CRZ provisions will always fall short of doing justice to fishing communities.
Increasing opportunities for others on the coast and squeezing fishermen out
What the CMZ proposed to do, the CRZ-2010 does more gently and in stages. The increasing demand for use of coast by different “permitted” and “exempted” activities will lead to increased pressure on coastal lands and resources. Violations add to the pressure. With CRZ-2010 showing no signs of trying to limit growth of activities on the coast or look at cumulative impacts, the fishing community will face both physical displacement and livelihood losses.
Special dispensations—adverse to fishing communities
The special dispensations given in Mumbai, Goa and Kerala are in general adverse to fishermen as they promote the claims of others who are competing with fishing communities for coastal space and resources. Using euphemisms like “local communities”, the non-fishing community interests are being promoted and the fishing community, by virtue of its social, economic and political marginalisation will be the biggest loser in areas of “special dispensation”. It was the fishing communities which needed a special dispensation in CRZ-2010, not the others.
Does CRZ-2010 get a pass mark?
The CRZ-2010 pre-draft notification fails to satisfy the two criteria used by NFF to judge it: (i) increased coastal protection and (ii) protecting the rights and interests of the fishing communities.
The CRZ-2010 fails to deliver on its mandate basically because many of its provisions actually come from outside the two legitimate sources it needed to depend upon: (i) Final Frontier and (ii) the consultations organised by CEE.
While NFF is not in full agreement with all the recommendations of the Final Frontier, its broad approach is sound. Likewise, the consultations brought out a diversity of views and there was no scope of building a consensus or assessing the actual support that many views had. However, there were many views that had clearly support across the coast and the Ministry has clearly ignored them. One clear example is that there was a universal stand across the coast to go back to the original 1991 notification as base document. The list of views that came across clearly and were ignored by the Ministry is a long one.
Hence NFF rejects the CRZ-2010 pre-draft notification in its current form.
WHAT THE WFFP SEEKS
The WFFP is willing to accept changes to CRZ as long as the formulation satisfies the following conditions
• Re-establishing the primacy of water front and foreshore requirements as principle for permitting activities on the coast; strict adherence to the principle
• Recognising that activities that require water front and foreshore facilities cannot be allowed without setting limits. MoEF must undertake a comprehensive study of the coast and the cumulative impacts (both environmental and social) of various activities, and fix limits that will allow the coast to exist as a healthy eco-system providing sustainable benefits to many
• Recognise the right of the coastal fishing communities to the coastal zone (not just a small part of it) and give them the responsibility to plan and use the coastal space in a sustainable manner; protect fishing villages from encroachments by industries, SEZs, power plants, ports, etc.
• Drop the proposal to include aquatic areas unless there is a will to develop a comprehensive system of regulation to protect the marine and brackish-water eco-system, taking on the some of the holy cows of modern India like oil exploration and production.
• Drop the hazard line as there is no clear understanding how it will be used and the fishing communities are unwilling to accept it
• Realise that the fishing communities represent the single biggest constituency for coastal protection in India and is the best ally for the MoEF, if it genuinely seeks coastal protection; involve fishing community and its organisations in monitoring and provide proper representation in all bodies dealing with coastal regulations; strengthen presence of environmentalists and livelihood experts in such bodies
• Strengthen EPA provisions for deterrent punishments that will include fines in proportion to the ecological destruction caused and include imprisonment of violators
• The notification is only a stop gap arrangement accepted by WFFP till the time the Ministry comes out with a legislation to regulate the coastal zones.