EQUATIONS comments on Draft Island Protection Zone Notification in the context of Tourism

Letters and Submissions
Scrap the Islands Protection Zone Notification

EQUATIONS comments on Draft Island Protection Zone Notification in the context of Tourism

EQUATIONS
03 June 2010

 

In the continuing saga on amendments to the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) made public the draft Islands Protection Zone (IPZ) Notification, applicable to the Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands. This letter and the accompanying note with our concerns related to this proposed Notification, highlights the need to make the CRZ notification even stronger and ensure tourism is regulated in the fragile island ecosystems.

 

3rd June 2010

Dr. Manmohan Singh,
Chairman,
Island Development Authority,
New Delhi - 110 003

Subject: EQUATIONS concerns about the draft Island Protection Zone Notification 2010

Dear Dr. Singh,

EQUATIONS is a research, advocacy, and campaigning organisation, (www.equitabletourism.org) working on the impacts of tourism, particularly in terms of rights and benefits to local communities. Since the 1990s we have supported the struggles of coastal communities to protect the coastal ecology and secure their rights and livelihoods. We also have also been actively involved in the debate on coastal regulation with particular reference to tourism development.
 
Of particular concern to us, has been the role of unregulated tourism development in contributing to the destruction of fragile coastal ecology of the Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands – the evidence for which has unfortunately only been growing. In this connection, two developments – the Draft Island Protection Zone Notification 2010 and the Pre draft Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2010 are of concern to us because both of them seem to be attempts to dilute rather than strengthen regulation against the harmful impacts of tourism.

We enumerate our key concerns in the context of tourism as follows:

1.    The decision to exclude the Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands from the ambit of CRZ Notification 1991 and to bring them under a separate Island Protection Zone Notification seems to be based almost solely on the recommendations of one committee viz. Swaminathan Committee July 2009. As far as we can see there is no evidence of any public demand for such separation. The MoEF website does not record any consultations held on the Islands and the consultations in other cities have no record of such a demand from civil society.

2.    In order to strengthen coastal ecology in the Islands we believe that the CRZ-IV Section of the CRZ Notification should, in fact, be strengthened. The need to move the Islands out of the CRZ seems in no way justified. Any good provisions recommended in the IPZ could be included for CRZ-IV areas in the CRZ Notification including specific management plans. (Up to the year 2003, the CRZ-IV prohibited construction of tourism establishments within 200m from the High Tide Line. Under pressure from the tourism lobby this was later reduced to 50m. CRZ-IV requires construction and design of buildings to be consistent with the local architecture and surrounding landscape. Buildings constructed between 50m to 500m of HTL are not permitted to have more than two floors, total area covered on all floors should not exceed more than 50 percent of plot size and the total height of construction should not exceed 9 metres.)

3.    What is even more worrying is that the draft IPZ Notification contains no specific regulatory provisions for tourism at all. This is a serious flaw as tourism has been positioned as a significant economic activity in the Islands. This non-inclusion invites speculation that this is under pressure from the tourism lobby to further open up the coast for tourism. Even with the diluted provisions. The violations by the tourism industry in the Islands are rife. We wonder what the case will be when tourism does not come stringently under the scanner. A consequence may be that current violations (for which no punitive action has been taken so far) may then be left off the hook completely!

4.    The draft IPZ Notification requires all permissible activities under the Island Integrated Management Plan to be undertaken in accordance with Environment Impact Assessment Notification (2006). We would like to draw your attention to the fact that the EIA Notification 2006 is inherently problematic on several counts.

5.    The Honourable Supreme Court in 2002 had drawn attention to the need to bring down and phase out sand mining in the Andaman Islands. However, no monitoring of sand mining and hence ensuring reduction of such activity has been implemented. The provision in the draft IPZ Notification for “allowing sand mining based on scientific studies”, is a cause for concern, as given the dismal record of reducing sand mining thus far, it could allow for extraction to continue unabated.

6.    The Integrated Island Management Plan is the responsibility of the Islands Administration as per the draft IPZ. It would be critical to delineate the role of the local self governments (and not just consultations) in preparing these in the spirit of the 73rd and 74th Amendments of the Constitution of India.

7.    The draft IPZ in Section 4 points 1 and 2, refer to SO 2058(E) and SO 308 (E) as the basis for the constitution of the Islands Protection Authority. Firstly neither of these SO are listed under the Coastal Regulation section of the MoEF website. Secondly, SO 308 pertains to 2006 and subsequently SO 3251 (E) of 21st December 2009 reconstituted the Lakshadweep Coastal Zone Management Authority for a period of three years. Finally, these SO’s are about constituting the Coastal Zone Management Authorities and NOT the Island Protection Zone Management Authority as claimed by the draft IPZ Notification. The draft IPZ Notification thus is making incorrect and misleading statements.

8.    The draft IPZ notification therefore also fails to elaborate the role and limits of authority of the Island Zone Protection Authority. In the context of the trend of parastatal bodies sidelining powers of constitutional bodies, these powers and roles should be clearly and transparently delineated.

In the enclosed note we have made more detailed comments and recommendations. We are also attaching for your reference, our comments on the pre draft CRZ Notification 2010 to MoEF, where inter-alia we argue that the notification should in fact be a legislation and make a strong appeal for retaining the regulatory provisions relating to CRZ-IV and the Islands within the CRZ Notification.

We hope Sir, that you will take into account the issues raised by us to secure the protection of fragile coastal ecosystems and the rights and livelihoods of coastal communities in the Islands. We also hope you will give us the opportunity to engage further on the links between unregulated tourism development and degradation of ecosystems in Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands.

Sincerely,

Rosemary Viswanath
Chief Functionary
EQUATIONS

Copy to:
1. Island Development Authority
    I. Shri Rajat Sachar, Director, Island Development Authority
    II.Ms. Syeda S Hameed, Member, Island Development Authority 
2. Shri Bishnu Pada Ray, Member of Parliament, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
3. Ministry of Environment and Forest
    I.  Shri Jairam Ramesh, Minister (independent charge), Ministry of Environment and Forests
    II. Shri Vijai Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests
    III.Smt N. Kala, Chief Conservator of Forests, Member Secretary, Andaman and Nicobar CZMA
    IV.Dr M S Sayed Ismail Koya, Member Secretary, Lakshadweep CZMA
4. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
    I.  Lt General (Retd) Bhopinder Singh, Lieutenant Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands
    II. Shri. Vivek Rae, Chief Secretary, Andaman & Nicobar Administration

    III.Shri G.G Saxena, Secretary, Tourism, Information, Publicity & Tourism 
        DepartmentAndaman & Nicobar Islands

5. Lakshadweep Islands
    I. Shri. J.K. Dadoo, Administrator, Lakshadweep
    II.Shri. A. Hamsa, Director, Department of Information, Publicity & Tourism Lakshadweep

Geographies
India
Local Regions/Cities
Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands