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Fishworkers Reject Draft Coastal Zone Regulation Notification

02 October, 2010

The National Fishworkers Forum at its Executive Committee meeting held
at Chennai on 25th September unanimously rejected the Draft Coastal
Zone Regulation Notification, demanded its withdrawal and decided to
launch a massive agitation all over the country to press for its
demand to protect the right to live and livelihood of the fishing
community and also protection of coastal environment.

The Draft Notification instead of seeking to protect the environment,
is in effect a tool to destroy the coastal ecology as it seeks to
throw open the coastal areas of the country for commercial
exploitation and thereby fails in its very avowed objective of

It is indeed ironical that all the activities that should not have
been permitted along the coastland in order to protect the environment
there, have actually been included in the list of permissible
activities. For example, despite objections and even agitations over
SEZ in different parts of the country, the Draft Notification provides
for setting up SEZ in the coastland.Hazardous and heavy polluting
industries like thermal plants and nuclear plants are recommended in
the coastland under the Draft Notification even though such plants
would wreck havoc with not only the land but even the waters thereby
affecting the marine life therein. Such plants do not need foreshore
facilities as the discharge water is supposed to be cooled and then
ejected. However, they are sought to be put up along the coastline so
that the water need not be cooled before releasing directly in the
sea. Besides the thermal plants have the notorious reputation of
polluting the environment around it due to dust pollution and also
heat generated.

What is most shocking is the fact that the Draft Notification provides
for housing colonies in land admeasuring over 20,000 square meters
thereby indicating that the government proposes to throw open the
coastline for setting up new villages which will not only displace the
traditional occupiers of the land but also create a demographic
dichotomy that will be disastrous for the cultural and ecological
fabric of the coastland.

Carte blanc is sought to be given to construction of ports with a
special rapid EIA provision made for them. This is truly cause of
concern as the government proposes to set up more than 300 private
ports in the country and without a proper study, these ports will well
end up destroying the beaches in India and leave it only with wharves
and jetties and ports.If ports, nuclear and thermal plants, SEZ and
even housing colonies are set up along the coastland, where will be
the space left for the fishermen and other traditional communities
that have been living in these areas for centuries?

In another move that makes the government intention suspect, elevated
roads are proposed anywhere and everywhere in the CRZ area while
earlier only roads on stilts were proposed in areas under mangrove
cultivation. NFF noted with concern that in some pockets of the
country, traditional fishermen are being asked to vacate their
residences on grounds that the government will be acquiring their land
for public purpose to build roads on stilts. Hence, it appears that
the government is seeking to displace the local inhabitants to grab
their land which will be then given to private players to exploit

Besides, the Draft Notification seeks to regularize all the amendments
to the 1991 Notification which have resulted in diluting the
protection regime of the notification and that is why NFF asserts that
the 2010 notification is defeatist as far as protection of the
environment is concerned.

The so called special dispensation given to certain geographical areas
is nothing short of a joke on those people. In the case of Goa for
example, under the special consideration, coastal communities are
supposed to be permitted to construct jetties, ice plants, etc which
are necessary for their trade. However, these facilities are available
for all fishermen along the Indian coast and there is nothing special
offered to Goa fishing community under this.

More significantly, while the Notification takes note of the unique
khazan lands in Goa, it merely pays lip service to protection of these
lands by stating that no development shall be allowed on them.
Instead, these lands could be termed as inter-tidal zones and brought
under CRZ – 1 where no development of any kind is permitted.
As far as the special dispensation for Kerala is concerned, setback of
50 meters in the backwater islands is apparently aimed to benefit the
hotel industry which has purchased most of these islands and there is
no protection whatsoever, provided to the traditional fishermen and
other communities living therein for so many years now.

The NFF noted with concern that the Draft Notification has failed to
incorporate any of the recommendations made at the 10 consultations
held by the Minister for Environment and Forests as the main demand at
all these consultations – right to live and livelihood of the people
in the coastal region – is not reflected in the Draft Notification.

More significantly, the Coastal Zone Management Plans which are sought
to be prepared within two years of the notification can be amended and
changed within five years, thereby actually meaning within three
years. This means that the use of coastal land will be changed every
five years instead of adopting a more sedate and practical time module
of 10 years.

The Draft Notification also appears to be yet another paper tiger
meant to only to appease environmentalists as it has not been provided
with any teeth to take penal action against those who violate even the
diluted provisions of the Notification and more particularly those who
carry out activities prohibited in the coastal regulation zone.
In yet another instance of this lackadaisical attitude of the
Ministry, the Draft Notification has brought the sea area up to 12
nautical miles within its purview. However, except for prohibiting
dumping of untreated waste and the like in this area, no other
comments on activities prohibited or permitted in this zone find
mention in the Draft Notification.

It is because of these and many other lacunae that the NFF has decided
to launch a country wide agitation demanding the immediate withdrawal
of the notification. As the first stage of the agitation, the NFF will
shortly submit a point by point critique of the Draft Notification to
the Ministry for Environment and Forests shortly.
From 15th October 2010 the agitations will start in different parts of
the country with special emphasis on the coastal States and 29th
October will be observed as an All India Protest Day with different
kinds of agitation held in the State capitals and district
headquarters on that day.


Matanhy Saldanha
Chairperson, National Fishworkers Forum (NFF)

T. Peter
President, Kerala Swathanthra Malsyathozhilaly Federation (KSMTF)