Insights into Issues: Coastal Regulation Zone & Sailesh Nayak Committee
About Coastal Regulation Zone
Under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, notification was issued in 1991 for regulation of activities in the coastal area by Ministry of Environment and Forests. These notification known as Coastal Regulation Zone Notification defined the Coastal Regulation Zone or CRZ as coastal land up to 500m from the High Tide Line and a range of 100m along banks of creeks, estuaries, backwaters and rivers subject to tidal fluctuations is CRZ. According to Coastal Regulation Zone notifications, it is divided into 4 zones
- CRZ I – It refers to the ecologically sensitive areas, essential in maintaining ecosystem of the coast. These lie between the HTL and LTL. Only exploration of natural gas and extraction of salt is permitted
- CRZ II – These areas form up to the shoreline of the coast. Authorized structures are not allowed to be constructed in this zone
- CRZ III – This includes rural and urban localities. Only certain activities relating to agriculture and public utilities allowed here
- CRZ IV – This includes the aquatic area up to the territorial limit (12 nautical miles). Fishing and allied activities permitted in this zone. Solid waste can be let off in this zone.
The CRZ notification,1991 saw a series of reviews and amendments and was eventually replaced with a new notification in 2011. One of the critiques of the 1991 notification was that it did not account for the concerns of coastal communities. The 2011 notification tried to address (in how much ever limited manner) this lacuna by creating the District Level Coastal Committees (DLCC), a space for coastal communities to participate in some aspects of regulatory decision-making on the coasts. While the exact role of these committees was not specified, and in many states the committees are yet to be fully functional, it was still a start.
About Sailesh Nayak Committee:
The Sailesh Nayak Committee was formed with an objective to review the issues relating to Coastal regulation zone 2011. The CRZ Regulations amended in 2011 had dissatisfied a lot of States. The CRZ notification 2011 enshrined the concept of a Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP). It was to be prepared with the fullest involvement and participation of local communities. The amendment had mandated all states to submit coastal development plans for Centre’s approval which were pending since 1991, the date of CRZ notification.
Its other objectives were
- Protection of livelihoods of traditional fisher folk communities
- Preservation of coastal ecology
- Promotion of economic activity that are necessarily located in coastal regions
Recommendations of Sailesh Nayak Committee:
- The committee acknowledged the discrepancy in baseline data demarcating the High Tide Line, the Low Tide Line and the coastal zone boundary which has created difficulties in preparing Coastal Zone Management Plan. The Committee observed that such plans are essential for the proper implementation of any CRZ notification
- The Committee proposed changing the definition of No Development Zone. It is reduced from 200 metres from the high tide line to 100 meters only. This has been done to meet increased demands of housing of fishing and other traditional coastal communities.
- Weaken regulation – It recommends that except for activities covered under environmental clearances, the state governments along with the local authorities should be left in charge of managing coasts in towns, rural areas as well as the waters up to 12 nautical miles. These relaxations are only for activities not covered under Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006.
- The Committee has recommended that local town regulations be preferred over existing Coastal Regulation Zone.
- States to determine the Floor Area ratio rather than centre under Coastal regulation Zone.
- Opening of seas for reclamation of lands for array of activities allowed. Calling for ‘larger public interest’ the panel has said that land can be reclaimed for “ports and harbour, fisheries-related activities and other infrastructure required in the larger public interest such as bridges, sea-links on stilts, roads, important national installations related to coastal security, tourism etc.
- States are permitted, if they want to redevelop and rehabilitate slums in coastal zone.
- Construction and other activities could be taken up in CRZIII (rural areas) zone just 50m from the HTL in densely populated rural areas under state norms with the responsibility to rescue and rehabilitate during disasters left to local authorities
- The Committee proposed new, lightly regulated tourism in the No Development Zone
- Determining the list of restrictive activities has been recommended to be left to the states and Centre will involve itself with matters that come under Environmental regulations.
Importance of the CRZ Notification:
- India has a long coastline of 7516 km, ranging from Gujarat to West Bengal, and two island archipelagos (Andaman Island and Lakshadweep).
- Our coastal ecosystems provide protection from natural disasters such as floods and tsunamis to the 250 million people who live in our coastal areas.
- Coastal waters provide a source of primary livelihood to 7 million households.
- Our marine ecosystems are a treasure trove of biodiversity, which we are only beginning to discover and catalogue.
Thus, our coastline is both a precious natural resource and an important economic asset, and we need a robust progressive framework to regulate our coast.
Status of the Report:
The committee was formed in 2014 and its report was made available to the public only in June 2016 after intervention by CIC. While the ministry has has not publically approved the findings of the report, the recommendations have been a source of several piecemeal but substantive amendments. For instance, upon request by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to amend the CRZ regulation to allow for construction of a road, the notification was amended to allow “land reclamation for construction of coastal road”. So far the ministry has implemented 8 amendments on the basis of findings of the report.
Assessment of the Recommendations
- Environmental Impact
- Opening of seas for reclamation for projects in “public interest” can open a pandora’s box with respect to sustainable management of coasts. Overexploitation in the name of development can affect marine life and coastal ecosystem. For instance, while constructing road by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, the local population complained extensively of pollution
- With the environmental clearance regime also relaxed especially for construction activity recently, if implemented, the Nayak committee recommendations could lead to a construction boom along the coast line.
- Allowing construction activities so near to the coast will put the local population at greater risk from tsunamis etc. Allowing construction activities can also lead to depletion of mangroves, forests near coasts which act as the first line of defence in case of tsunamis, cyclones etc
- Proposing new, lightly regulated tourism in “no development zones” is also an extraordinary measure. The proper course would be to identify specific areas for such activity, assess its environmental impact, demarcate the area under the State’s management plans, and fix responsibility for enforcement, particularly for pollution control.
- Economic Impact
- According to International Collective in Support of fisheries, any change in 2011 notification will directly impact 3200 marine fishing villages and 1.5 million people whose livelihood is dependent on fishing and allied activities
- For instance, post construction of road by MCGM, the local fishermen complained that the ferry route to the proposed route pass through their fishing ground and adversely impact their livelihood
- Governance Impact
- Transferring control of development in CRZII zone (built up cities and towns) from the environment department to state town planning authorities raises question over uniformity, efficacy and capacity of state town planning authorities.
- The amendment to allow for same floor to surface area in coastal zone like in non coastal zone has not been accompanied by an the capacity of civic bodies, infrastructure and resources for sewage and waste disposal – demands for which will swell with taller buildings and more floors
- Secrecy Issues
- The report itself has been shrouded in secrecy. The amendments to the CRZ notification are being done without consulting all stakeholders which belies the principles of democracy
- The report was made public only post the intervention by CIC, which should have been done in normal course