Coastal Regulation in India - Why do we need a new Notification?

Coastal Regulation in India

- A Saga of Betrayal

Research Papers and Case Studies
The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 1991 is the most significant and specialized legislation guiding developmental activities along the coast and in islands. Since its inception, it has been amended 20 times, each time diluting its provisions further. In an unwarranted move, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) proposed to replace the CRZ Notification with a Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) Notification based on recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee Report. Many doubts and concerns are raised because of this move. The critical ones being: the impact on coastal communities and ecosystems, conservation and sustainable development, and a complete lack of democratic processes in its making. This paper provides a background and context for the CRZ Notification 1991, what went wrong with the Notification, the reasons for it, the status of the CMZ Notification and its impacts and a few of the regulations in CMZ Notification that are diluted for purely the benefit of the tourism development industry. The paper also brings to light how these Notifications have become an instrument to execute developmental activities rather than protect the highly pressurised coastal ecosystems.
This publication is divided into four parts: the first part analyses the CRZ Notification 1991 and issues of its implementation. It further looks at violations of the CRZ Notification 1991 by tourism. The second part is an evaluation of the Swaminathan Committee recommendations. The third section is a critique of the draft CMZ Notification 2008. Finally, it has been suggested that the current CRZ Notification needs to be strengthened and rigorously implemented, rather than replace it with a feeble and ambigous CMZ Notification in the section on 'The Way Forward'.

Background & Context

The Indian coastal stretch is made up of diverse ecosystems - sand dunes, beaches, wetlands, mangroves, estuaries, backwater lagoons and coral reefs. Settlements of traditional people comprising about 10 million fisherfolk, are concentrated in these areas, as they mainly depend on coastal resources and seas for their survival. Several activities are affecting the coast such as unregulated tourism, polluting industries, infrastructure, aquaculture, sand mining, construction of sea walls and rapid urbanization pose serious threats to the health of these ecosystems and to lives and livelihoods of coastal communities. The recent 2004 tsunami has shown that the coast is a naturally vulnerable area and that these activities have worsened the impacts on coastal people.

The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, issued in 1991 using the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 is the most significant and specialized legislation regulating developmental activities along the coast.