New Coastal Regulation Zone Notification Will Result In Pillage Of Coast

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) demands that the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2018 should be withdrawn with immediate effect. A fresh, transparent public consultation must be initiated so as to draft a Traditional Coastal and Marine Fisher-folk (Protection of Rights) Bill on the lines of the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

The new CRZ notification is in complete violation of the spirit of the Constitution and will result in the coast being pillaged. If the notification is not reversed, it will devastate a fragile environment and seriously undermine the livelihood of coastal communities.

This notification, which dilutes some of the salutary provisions of CRZ, 2011 notification, is extremely distressing. It stipulates a drastic reduction in earlier CRZ norms and is plainly intended to benefit private capital which is already viewing it as a bonanza. Nowhere has the new notification addressed the concerns of fisher-folk. It will be catastrophic for India’s 7,500 km long coastline. Almost this entire stretch is used by fishers for livelihood and if this unbridled ‘development’ activity is permitted, as the new notification allows, there will be no coastline left for these communities.

The notification will result in rapid and mindless industrial, real estate and tourism projects that will permanently destroy coastal ecology. This incursion by the coast will be at a very significant cost to the livelihood of fisher-folk. Some of the most ecologically sensitive areas that have till now been off-limits for industrial, tourism and infrastructure projects will henceforth be in peril.

The government’s contention that this notification is ‘a good blend of development and sustainability’ is a specious claim. In fact, the functioning of the Shailesh Nayak Committee on whose recommendations the new notification was brought about has been arbitrary and deeply undemocratic. The committee’s report was finalized based on discussions with the coastal State governments.There was no adequate and transparent consultation with coastal communities that depend critically on coastal and marine resources for their livelihood.The sustained demands for rights over coastal commons by fisher-folk have been ignored.

The new CRZ notification makes for chilling reading. There is brazen dis-regard for existing climate reality and it mocks at the copious amount of evidence now available on impending ecological calamities.In effect, the changes render the coast even more vulnerable to disasters. Of extreme concern is the dilution and delegation of powers to State Coastal Zone Management Authorities (SCZMAs) from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) as well as the lackadaisical approach towards the constitution and functioning of SCZMAs.

 The omission of the hazard line in the notification is very worrying. The hazard line is now limited to disaster management planning and is removed from the ambit of ‘No Development Zone’. The aim of preparation of Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMPs) stands completely defeated with this utter disregard for hazard line. The preparation of CZMPs, which saw stiff opposition from coastal communities owing to its opaque and incomprehensive mapping, will now facilitate the takeover of coastal commons.

HRF feels that the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2018 must be scrapped immediately. We urge all democratic forces in the country to oppose this regressive and dangerous notification. 

 G Rohith 
(HRF State Executive Committee member)

    Y Rajesh
(HRF AP State secretary)


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