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Fishe Workers' Orgznizations Reject Draft CRZ Notification

20 October, 2010

Memmoradum submitted to MoEF, President of India, Prime minister and
Sonia Ghandi.

The National Fishworkers Forum(NFF) & Kerala Swathanthra
Malsyathozhilaly Federation (KSMTF)rejects the Draft CRZ Notification
2010 notification in toto for the following reasons:


The current process to revise the CRZ 1991 notification is the result
of (i) the understanding reached on July 2nd 2009 between the NFF and
the Minister of Environment when he agreed to drop the controversial
CMZ draft notification, and (ii) the Final Frontier, the report of the
expert committee appointed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests
under the Chairmanship of Dr.M.S.Swaminathan to go into the objections
against the CMZ. The expert committee had recommended amendments to
the CRZ 1991 with a view to (i) strengthen coastal protection and (ii)
to strengthen provisions for fishermen housing and livelihoods.

Based on the understanding reached between NFFand the Minister, the
MoEF organised public consultations in all Coastal States and the
Union Territory of Pondicherry. Subsequently, the Ministry brought out
a “pre-draft” notification in April 2010 to get feedback. Now the
Ministry has brought out the draft notification on 15th September
2010, after supposedly taking into account the feedback given to the
“pre-draft” notification.

Reasons for rejection of draft CRZ 2010

1. The draft notification is only marginally different from the
pre-draft which was rejected by the fishing communities. The draft, as
the pre-draft before it, has ignored most of the views expressed by
the fishing community and environmentalists, as reflected in the CEE
report published by the Ministry. It has failed to stick to the
mandate given by the Swaminathan Committee and has used it simply as
an opportunity to further tamper with the CRZ 1991 and accommodate
other interests.

2. NFF had strongly argued in favour of going back to the basics of
the original 1991 notification that was based on the fundamental
principle that only activities that require the waterfront and
foreshore facilities should be permitted in the CRZ. Unfortunately,
the draft continues to legitimise all the activities which do not have
such a justification and have crept into the notification over the
years. These include “non-polluting” industries in Special Economic
Zones, Nuclear power plants, power generation by non-conventional
energy sources, “green field airport” in Navi Mumbai, storage of
petroleum products, fertilizers and chemicals, large-scale housing
projects, generous exemptions to tourism projects, etc. It is worth
noting that some of these activities including Nuclear power plants
and the Navi Mumbai airport are permitted in CRZ-I areas that
supposedly enjoy the highest level of protection in the CRZ
3. In addition to retaining all past dilutions to the CRZ, the new
draft also adds new activities that are permissible. Some of the new
additions include “roads on stilts” (including in mangrove areas of
CRZ-I), potentially a major exemption as plans are afoot in Mumbai and
Chennai to use this provision in a big way. The Chennai proposal
involves the construction of an elevated highway over famous beaches
and fishing villages.

4. An important suggestion to strengthen the CRZ was to look into
cumulative impacts of permissible projects before according sanction
to new projects. The Swaminathan Committee recommended a cumulative
impact study of ports and a moratorium till that is done.
Unfortunately, the Ministry has not done any cumulative study and has
come up with a peculiar formulation to permit ports in “stable coasts”
that are not subject to erosion. Given that ports themselves have
contributed to the erosion of many stable coasts, this measure will
only mean the eventual spoiling of the entire coastline. The
cumulative impacts of many other activities including foreshore
facilities for thermal power plants (which pump in enormous quantities
of sea water for their water requirements) also need to be studied,
but the Ministry prefers to ignore cumulative impacts as this may be
inconvenient to the ambitious “coastal invasion” plans of investors
and ministries.

5. The sea up to 12 nautical miles from the shore has been included in
the CRZ as CRZ-IV. This seems to make no sense as it contains no new
provisions to regulate activities in the sea. While fishing activities
will not be regulated by the CRZ and will be subject to other laws,
the CRZ provides an opportunity to prohibit activities like petroleum
extraction and sea-bed mining in important fishing grounds.

6. The provision of certain “special considerations” to Greater
Mumbai, Kerala and Goa is a new addition that threatens the very
foundation of the CRZ regime. Instead of the CRZ being an All-India
regulation based on common rules, this idea opens the door for special
favours to individual states or areas. An analysis of the special
considerations shows that with the exception of the favour shown to
the builder lobby in Greater Mumbai, there is nothing very special
about the so-called considerations. Like the “road on stilts”, some of
these provisions are actually available to all, while provisions like
protection of “Khazan” lands in Goa can be made applicable elsewhere
also as other states like Karnataka and Kerala have similar
eco-systems. Likewise mapping of fishing villages of Goa is no special
consideration as it is going to be part of all Coastal Zone Management
Plans as per guidelines given in the Appendix. The real problem that
hundreds of Goan fishermen houses are facing demolition for violating
CRZ is not being addressed at all. The concessions given for housing
of coastal communities in the “backwater islands” in Kerala seem to
make no sense as problems of its coastal dwellers do not lie in
backwater islands, which are mainly un-inhabited or tourist
destinations. Anther danger posed by the section on special
considerations is that concessions in housing are provided for “local
residents” or “coastal communities”. This may mean the eventual ouster
of fishing communities from the coast by others with better means.

7. Under special considerations, another category called “Critically
Vulnerable Coastal Areas” is being introduced. While the need for
making special concessions to people living in the mangrove areas of
Sunderbans have been recognised through earlier amendments to the CRZ,
the new draft wishes to include a number of locations along the coast
(Gulf of Khambhat, Gulf of Kutch, Gulf of Mannar, Malvan,
Vasai-Manori, Achra-Ratnagiri, Coondapur, Vembanad, Bhaitarkanika,
Coringa and Krishna) for special consideration through the development
of management plans that will substitute coastal regulations. There
seems no strong logic for this as there is no evidence that in any of
the areas that people are actually living in national parks or
bio-sphere areas. Moreover, some of the regulations that hamper
fishing in areas that house national parks and biosphere reserves
cannot be solved by the CRZ notification and need changes in other
laws like the Forest Conservation Act or Wildlife Protection Act. This
seems to be an attempt to bring back the CMZ, if only for some
stretches of the coast.
8. Another attempt to bring the CMZ back through the backdoor is
evident in the persistence of “hazard line” concept. While the
Government and scientific institutions are welcome to work on studying
the possible impact of sea level rise and coast line changes, it is
unacceptable that a line that is yet to be drawn and no one is able to
say where it will fall once it is drawn, is incorporated in a
regulatory framework of this kind. The only logic we can discern at
the moment is that the World Bank has agreed to fund the drawing of
this line.

9. Some of the other important objections to the draft
notification include:

(i) The provision for a fresh classification of the coast into zones
that may provide an opportunity to conveniently reclassify CRZ-I areas
as CRZ-II or III and so on. Equally risky is the provision to revise
Coastal Zone Management Plans every five years giving the bureaucracy
the scope to tamper with the zones and accommodate new interests from
time to time.
(ii) The exclusion of the island territories (Andaman & Nicobar,
Lakshadweep) from the purview of the CRZ with the intention of
creating a separate Island Protection Zone (IPZ) notification for
them. The IPZ is nothing but the CMZ for the islands and it will
signal the de-regulation of the islands from the point of view of
coastal regulations.
(iii) While an attempt has been made in the notification to improve
the governance aspects, there are still many weaknesses. The
composition of the State Coastal Zone Management Authorities and the
National Coastal Zone Management Authorities is still left to the
whims of the bureaucracy. The demand for enshrining the inclusion of
fishing community representatives and environmentalists in bodies at
all levels has been ignored. So has been the demand to create local
monitoring committees at fishing village level to check the compliance
with the CRZ notification.
(iv) The proposal to stop untreated effluents from reaching the sea is
welcome, but it needs to be pointed out that similar deadlines were
given in the 1991 notification and never enforced. The proposal to
deal with all violations of the 1991 regulations is also welcome but
is unlikely to make headway as the notification provides no relief to
fishermen with regard to housing, with many fishermen still treated as
illegal occupants of their traditional homeland.

10. Finally, one of the biggest objections to this draft notification
is the way it has completely failed the fishing community. Despite
talk of recognition of fishing community rights, the notification has
not done justice to fishing community housing, social and cultural
needs. All it does is to allow additional housing in the 200-500 m
zone of CRZ-III, ignoring the fact that many fishing villages are
entirely within the 200 m no-development zone in some states. The
plight of fishing villages caught in urban areas coming under CRZ-II
is also ignored. By treating all coastal inhabitants on par and
failing to recognise the historical rights of fishing communities and
the inevitability of their being on the coast, the MoEF is merely
throwing crumbs at the fishing community while continuing to favour
business interests. The NFF and the National Coastal Protection
Campaign (NCPC) had proposed that fishermen should have the right to
build beyond 50 m and that all existing fishermen houses in the entire
0-500 m zone should not be disturbed.

NFF & KSMTFrejects the CRZ 2010 draft notification and asks to the
fishing communities to unite and fight for their rights and protection
of the coast.

RAMBAU PATIL (General Secretary, NFF)
T.PETER ( President, KSMTF)