Carving out the Coasts

What are the features of new Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), 2018 notification?

1.        The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), 2018 notification approved by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) has permitted the expansion of development activities into the Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) which were deemed inaccessible by law.

2.        The new policy will reduce the CRZ limits and the no-development zone (NDZ) area, and the classification of coastal zone areas, according to the density of population.

3.        Even the most ecological critical areas have not been excluded for the setting up of “strategic projects” for defence and public utilities.

Who will be benefited?

1.        Central government’s Sagarmala project- which consists of a series of commercial ventures- spread all across India’s coastline.

2.        Developers of infrastructure, real estate and tourism promoters as permission for affordable housing along the coast will become easy.

3.        Business interests.

Which are the negative impacts?

Such intrusions of commercial and industrial activities into the fragile coastal territories will have the following negative consequences:

1.        Disturbance of human-ecological balance

2.        Degradation of marine ecosystems and coastal ecology.

3.        Disruption of livelihoods of resource-dependent populations (especially artisanal fishers living off the coasts). They are already facing negative consequences in coastal cities like Mumbai and Chennai due to increasing urbanisation, changes in land use patterns, encroachments along the coast, construction of coastal roads, and unabated pollution.

4.        Promoting the business agendas of other interest groups at the cost of fisher livelihoods would impact a community that already has been passed to the margins of an unequal society. Their proper rehabilitation and resettlement have not been looked properly in the past as they faced impacts of large-scale development projects.

5.        Coastal erosion and rising sea levels due to climate change have already endangered the lives of populations living in low-lying areas across the globe. Regions along India’s west coast and east coast are very vulnerable.

Where the focus shall be made?

1.        Socioecological concerns regarding the livelihoods of resource-dependent populations and the conservation as well as sustainability of coastal ecosystems shall be looked upon while implementing such policies.

2.        A proper dialogue with the fishers or their organisations, like National Fishworkers Forum shall be allowed.

3.        The policy shall not be only focussed on corporate policy but the overall development of all sections of society shall be taken into account. Otherwise this can increase inequalities in the society.