State Level Convention On Fisher’s Right to Housing and Commons

WHEN: October 25, 2014. (Saturday)

WHERE: ICSA Centre, 107, Pantheon Road, Egmore, Chennai 600008

WHY: To push the following demands:

  1. a) GoTN should prepare the detailed Coastal Zone Management Plans as per the CRZ Notification, 2011, incorporating fisherfolk views on use of coastal commons and oceans for fishing.
  2. b) CZMPs should clearly spell out long-term housing plans for fisherfolk.
  3. c) Given that the CZMPs are already more than two years delayed, no projects requiring space on coastal or ocean commons should be permitted until the final CZMP is announced.
  4. d) Expedite the identification of CRZ violations, and take action against the same.

BACKGROUND: The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2011, has a tremendous bearing on the lives, living spaces and livelihoods of people on the coast, particularly the marine and inland fisherfolk who live along the coast and depend on the sea or tidal waterbodies for a living. The CRZ Notification, 2011, will set in law what is permissible and what is not, what can be built and what cannot within the coastal regulation zone – that is, within 500 metres of the high tide line at seashore, and 100 metres from high tide line at tidal influenced water bodies. This will be done through detailed Coastal Zone Management Plans that will not only describe existing geomorphologial features, but also lay out land-use plans and plans for long-term housing needs of fisherfolk.

The coastal area, particularly the beach, is an area where fishing communities have historically exerted and continue to exert their traditional and customary rights. Other uses by non-fisherfolk are entertained as long as they do not conflict with the livelihood rights of fisherfolk. Increasingly, however, these customary rights have been under attack by forces that have sought to convert beaches into privatised recreational commercial zones, or into captive ports or mining enclaves. As a result, in place after place, customary rights of fisherfolk are being taken over for tourism, commercial, industrial (harbours and ports, mining, power plants, desalination plants, roads and infrastructure) with no settlement of rights or no consultation with fisherfolk on whether they would like to even give up their rights to the sea and the beach.

This is where the CZM maps and plan offer certain opportunities and pose certain threats. For coastal fisherfolk, there can be no greater threat than a inaccurate Coastal Zone Management map and plan. The CZM map and plan are supposed to contain details about how the coastal lands (beach poromboke) is utilised by fisherfolk.

If the map for your village only indicates the homestead area, and fails to demarcate the beach spaces used by you to park your boats, mend your nets, haul your shoreseine nets (peria valai), then there is nothing that stops the Government from earmarking that area for a port or tourism purposes and hand it over to a private company without consulting you or settling your rights.

On the contrary, a well-prepared CZM map and plan will ensure fisherfolk’s safety, livelihood and long-term housing, and can formally legalise their traditional and customary rights to coastal commons and the sea.

The CZM map and plan also present a way out of the housing crisis looming before fisherfolk. Fishing communities, particularly in urbanising areas, are caught between a seaward moving urban population and a landward moving sea (either due to climate change or human-induced sea erosion). Under these circumstances, fisherfolk risk being squeezed between an unsafe sea and a hostile industry or urban community. The options for accommodating the natural population expansion of the fishing community are limited. If implemented correctly, and if the fisherfolk insist on its proper implementation, the CZM map and plan will accord legal sanction to the long-term housing plans for fisherfolk that the Government is supposed to develop in consultation with the beneficiaries under this law.

Organised by: Urur Kuppam Meenava Kooturavu Sangam

Coordinated by: Coastal Resource Centre (a program of The Other Media) and National Coastal Protection Campaign

For more information, contact

Saravanan, Urur Kuppam. 9176331717

Probir Banerjee (NCPC): 9894633929

Nityanand Jayaraman (The Other Media): 9444082401

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