Coastal Regulation Zone Notification in hot waters
In order to sustain the future of humans, there is a desperate need to harmonize the human lifestyle with nature. Humans need to live more consciously and cautiously so as to not harm the home that has sustained us for years. The responsibility to do so often falls collectively on the shoulders of the various governments. The Indian Government too pursues this goal.
It is another matter that the policies and regulations can often end deficient or even lacking in their objectives. The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change intends to replace the existing 2011 Coastal Regulation Zone norms.
The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification has been issued under Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. It intends to promote sustainable development on scientific principles. The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification regulates human and industrial activities along the coastline of India. The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification was first issued by the Government in 1991.
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History of Coastal Regulation Zone Notification
As mentioned previously, the notification was first issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in 1991. The object of this notification was as follows-
- To conserve the ecological balance of sensitive coastline areas inhabiting coral reefs, mangroves, etc.
- To implement measures for mitigating the impact of climate change.
- For sustainable development of coastal areas.
- To improve the livelihoods of communities inhabiting the coastal areas.
The 1991 notification expanded to include coastal stretches of seas, bays, estuaries, creeks, rivers, and backwaters. These were declared as Coastal Regulated Zones (CRZs). However, the 1991 notification was deficient so far as it simplified the biodiversity and demography of coastal areas by implementing uniform legislation. It was also vague in respect of the procedure for obtaining CRZ clearance. No post-clearance mechanism had been proposed and additionally, lacked measures to combat pollution emanating from land-based activities.
Consolidated amendments to the 1991 Coastal Regulation Zone Notifications were made in 2011. According to the 2011 notification, there were four categories of CRZ. They were as follows-
- CRZ-I: This included ecologically sensitive areas such as marine parks, national parks, sanctuaries, important biologically sensitive areas and areas of historical significance, etc. In this zone, no construction was to be permitted except for projects relating to the Department of Atomic Energy and those for the purpose of trans-harbor sea link.
- CRZ-II: Included towns and villages developed along the shoreline and which fall within the municipal limits.
- CRZ-III: This included undisturbed areas which did not fall within the ambit of CRZ-I or CRZ-II. Additionally, urban and rural undeveloped areas which are not consolidated were also included.
- CRZ-IV: This included aquatic areas starting from low tide line up to territorial limits.
In June 2014, a committee under the chairmanship of Shailesh Nayak by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change was set up in order to research and address the issues raised by several state governments and independent outfits regarding the Coastal Zone Notification. The committee submitted its report in 2015. The report was never made public.
However, it largely diluted the progressive and protective provisions of the Coastal Zone Regulation Notification such as reduction of no-development zones or relaxation of certain regulations in respect of mining and tourism. Based on the recommendations of the Nayak committee, the 2018 notification was issued.
Coastal Zone Regulation Notification 2019
The 2019 Notification is in pursuance of the recommendations of the Nayak Committee. It lays emphasis on economic growth along the coastline. The objectives for the 2019 Coastal Zone Regulation Notification have listed as –
- To conserve and protect the unique environment of coastal stretches and marine areas;
- Livelihood security to the fisher communities and other local communities in the coastal areas;
- To promote sustainable development based on scientific principles taking into account the dangers of natural hazards, sea-level rise due to global warming.
The notification calls for changes to the existing framework of the classification of CRZs. The salient features of the 2019 Coastal Zone Regulation Notification are as follows-
- CRZ-I have been further classified into CRZ-I A (which includes ecologically sensitive areas (ESAs) and the geomorphological features which are important for maintaining the integrity of the coast. These include corals and coral reefs, biologically active mudflats, sand dunes, National parks, marine parks, sanctuaries, reserve forests, wildlife habitats, and other protected areas including Biosphere Reserves, turtle nesting grounds, sea grass beds, nesting grounds of birds, salt marshes, etc.) and CRZ-1 B shall be constituted by the intertidal zone (area between low tide line and high tide line).
- CRZ-III has been classified into CRZ-III A and CRZ-III. CRZ-III A includes areas that have a population density is more than 2161 per square
kilometre as per 2011 census base and CRZ-III B includes areas which have a population density which is less than 2161 per square
kilometre as per 2011 census base. Further, the no-development zone of High Tide Line has been reduced from 200m to 50m.
- CRZ-IV has also been classified into CRZ-IV A and CRZ-IV B. CRZ-IV A includes water areas and sea bed areas between low tide line extending up to 12 nautical miles of the seaward side.
CRZ-IV B includes the “water area and the bed area between LTL at the bank of the tidal influenced water body to the LTL on the opposite side of the bank, extending from the mouth of the water body at the sea up to the influence of tide, i.e., salinity of five parts per thousand (ppt) during the driest season of the year”.
- The authority for clearance for projects in CRZ-I and CRZ-IV shall lay with the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change. The State governments shall deal with clearance for projects in CRZ-II and CRZ-III.
- In an attempt to combat pollution, treatment facilities have been permitted in CRZ-I B.
- In order to boost tourism, temporary facilities such as shacks, change rooms, toilet blocks etc., have been given permission in the no-development areas of CRZ-III. It is mandated that the minimum distance from the High Tide Line should be 10m.
- The Floor Space Index which was frozen according to the 1991 notification has been permitted for construction projects.
Concerns regarding the 2019 notification
While the content of the notification points towards economic growth, real estate development, and a boost to tourism, the notification attracts controversy at the behest of the fact that it seeks to dilute and simplify the protective provisions. It is also to be noted that the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change never uploaded the summary of comments received on the draft CRZ law on its website. Further, the report of the Nayak committee on which the 2019 notification is based was itself never made public.
The fishing communities had raised objections to the notification on the grounds that they were never consulted, relaxing of restrictions would be hazardous for the traditional fishing communities and would interfere negatively with the environment.
The relaxation in the provisions directly threatens the sustainability of the coastal areas. For the purpose of economic growth, they promise to plunge communities into extreme negative impacts of climate change. The growth of real estate and industrial activities by reducing no development zones in the coastal regions will result in soil erosion, pollution, floods, etc.
According to a study by Observer Research Foundation released in 2019 developmental activities close to the sea stands to increase the vulnerability of the population inhabiting coastal regions and the infrastructure there.
Currently, challenging the validity of the notification, a PIL has been filed by Environmental action group Vanashakti in the Bombay High Court. The petitioner maintains that the notification violates the right to live in a healthy environment and right to life with personal liberty.
The 2019 Coastal Zone Regulation Notification is a conflict between economic growth and the environment. Human society is at a crucial point and the choices made at this point shall decide the future. The consequences of climate change cannot be ignored or denied anymore. Any development that is bereft of environmental considerations is no development. It is a threat to society, to nature, and to the future.
This article is written by Satyawati Sinha, student at NLIU, Bhopal.
Note: The research and opinion in the articles are the author’s own views. we try to ensure that the information we post on our website is accurate. However, despite our best efforts, some of the content may contain errors. You can trust us, but please conduct your own checks too.
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 Meenakshi Kapoor, India’s 2019 coastal regulation law ignored 90% of the objections made to the draft, The Scroll, (last accessed- Aug. 4, 2021, 2:48PM), https://scroll.in/article/954402/indias-2019-coastal-regulation-law-ignored-90-of-the-objections-made-to-the-draft.
 Ishan Kukreti, Coastal Regulation Zone Notification: What development are we clearing our coasts for’, Down-to-earth, (last accessed- Aug.4,2021, 2:51PM), <https://www.downtoearth.org.in/coverage/governance/coastal-regulation-zone-notification-what-development-are-we-clearing-our-coasts-for-63061.
 Meenakshi Kapoor, India’s 2019 coastal regulation law ignored 90% of the objections made to the draft, The Scroll, (last accessed- Aug.4,2021, 2:48PM), https://scroll.in/article/954402/indias-2019-coastal-regulation-law-ignored-90-of-the-objections-made-to-the-draft.
 K.S Sudhi, Ministry notifies new CRZ norms, The Hindu, (last accessed-Aug.4,2021, 2:44 PM), https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/ministry-notifies-new-crz-norms/article26067164.ece.
 Express News service, ‘NGO filed PIL in Bombay High Court against 2019 Coastal Regulation Zone notification, The Indian Express, (last accessed- Aug.4,2021, 2:53PM), <https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/ngo-filed-pil-in-bombay-high-court-against-2019-coastal-regulation-zone-notification-7254907.