In December, 2018, the Union Cabinet has approved the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018.
Why was the CRZ notification needed?
The CRZ notification was needed for a comprehensive review of the provisions of the CRZ Notification, 2011, particularly related to the management and conservation of marine and coastal eco-systems, development in coastal areas, eco-tourism, livelihood option and sustainable development of coastal communities etc.
What are the benefits?
The proposed CRZ Notification, 2018 will lead to enhanced activities in the coastal regions thereby promoting economic growth while also respecting the conservation principles of coastal regions. It will not only result in significant employment generation but also to better life and add value to the economy of India. The new notification is expected to rejuvenate the coastal areas while reducing their vulnerabilities.
What are the new changes?
- Floor Area Ratio requirements have been revised to enable the redevelopment of coastal areas as per the emerging needs.
- Greater opportunity of development for densely populated coastal areas – such areas shall have a No Development Zone (NDZ) of 50 meters from the High Tide Line as against 200 meters from the High Tide Line stipulated in the CRZ Notification, 2011 since such areas have similar characteristics as urban areas.
- Temporary tourism facilities such as shacks, toilet blocks, change rooms, drinking water facilities etc. have now been permitted in Beaches. Such temporary tourism facilities are also now permissible in the “No Development Zone” (NDZ) of the CRZ-III areas as per the Notification. However, a minimum distance of 10 m from HTL should be maintained for setting up of such facilities.
- The procedure for CRZ clearances has been streamlined. Only such projects/activities, which are located in the CRZ-I (Ecologically Sensitive Areas) and CRZ IV (area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 Nautical Miles seaward) shall be dealt with for CRZ clearance by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The powers for clearances with respect to CRZ-II and III have been delegated at the State level with necessary guidance.
- For islands close to the main land coast and for all Backwater Islands in the main land, in wake of space limitations and unique geography of such regions, bringing uniformity in treatment of such regions, NDZ of 20 m has been stipulated.
- Specific guidelines related to their conservation and management plans have been drawn up as a part of the CRZ Notification.
- In order to address pollution in Coastal areas treatment facilities have been made permissible activities in CRZ-I B area subject to necessary safeguards.
- Defence and strategic projects have been accorded necessary dispensation.
Benefits of the notification:
- The CRZ notification is expected to go a long way in meeting the aspirations of Coastal communities besides ensuring welfare of poor and vulnerable populations.
- The changes brought about in the CRZ Notification will further add to creating additional opportunities for affordable housing.
- Tourism has been one of the greatest creators of livelihood and jobs. The new Notification will boost tourism in terms of more activities, more infrastructure and more opportunities and will certainly go a long way in creating employment opportunities in various aspects of tourism.
Concerns associated with the CRZ notification
- Removal of the Hazard Line – CRZ regulations were first introduced in 1991 and subsequently revised in 2011. A coastal hazard line was established taking into account natural disasters including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. In the new 2018 notification there is no reference to a hazard line. Formerly (in the 2011 version), the CRZ extended up to a minimum of 500 m and up to the area of the ‘hazard line’ if it was found to be beyond 500 m. By removing the hazard line altogether, the new notification maintains a uniform CRZ of 500 m from the high tide line. Except for the most ecologically sensitive areas (CRZ-I) and water areas (CRZ-IV), for which any development clearance requires MoEFCC approval, State governments will be responsible for regulating urban and rural coastal areas (CRZ-II and III).
- Relaxed regulation – The CRZ for land adjoining creeks and backwaters is reduced from 100 to 50 m. CRZ 2018 relaxes important restrictions and permits construction in urban CRZ zones and densely populated rural coastal areas. Rural areas have been bifurcated, with greater allowances, ironically, for more populated areas. The greatest number of relaxations has been accorded to hotels, resorts and the tourism sector. Big hotels, restaurants, houses, coastal highways and small and large port facilities can now be built closer to the shoreline. Increased coastal tourism translates into further destruction of lagoons, marshland and other coastal ecosystems and their services.
- Weather – related vulnerabilities – frequent weather-related coastal vulnerabilities (e.g. cyclones, storms etc.) are omitted in the CRZ 2018. The document trims the list of restricted activities in the ecologically sensitive CRZ-I areas and erases baselines. Also, the effects of climate change on sea levels have not been factored in.
- No participation of local communities – Under the CRZ notification, there are no provision of the participation of the local communities in the decision making process who would bear the immediate effect of the changes.
Source: The Hindu
- Impact on fishing industry – Over 3,000 fishing hamlets reside along India’s coast, park and repair their nets and boats and organise their economic and social activities here. The fisheries sector employs 4-9 million people. The self-reliant fisher community generates Rs. 48,000-75,000 crore for the economy, with almost no support from governments in the form of subsidies. The increased development of real estate in the coastal areas will adversely affect the fishing industry.
Source: The Hindu
There is a need to enact a Comprehensive Coastal Rights Act, in consultation with traditional coastal communities – the earlier CRZ notifications issued in 1991 and 2011 have been amended a total of 38 times; It is time to move away from notifications that can be amended by the whims of the executive, and bring in an actual law that will take into account the needs of all stakeholders, especially fishworker communities, and be debated by our representatives in Parliament.