Is the law protecting India’s coasts being diluted?

TN activists carry out protest yatra In March the Central government proposed that the current Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) be replaced by the Marine Coastal Regulation Zone (MCRZ).

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Since the Central government approved the Enayam port project in Kanyakumari last year, there have been protests by the fisherfolk community claiming that it will affect more than 20,000 families in the area. Fishworkers now have another reason to worry as activists claim that the new Marine Coastal Regulation Zone (MCRZ) notification of the Central government will be diluting the coastal protection laws and making way for industrialisation.

To protest against dilution of coastal protection laws, coastal industrialisation and increasing prices of fishing accessories due to Goods and Services Tax (GST) four organisations–the National Alliance of Peoples’ Movement (NAPM), Peoples’ Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), Tamil Nadu Land Rights Federation (TNLRF) and All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP)–carried out a ‘yatra’ from July 10 to July 27, 2017 from Nerrody to Chennai.

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Real estate sharks eye Pulicat

CHENNAI: A massive resort with individual villas and at least two residential townships are coming-up on the beach front of the Pulicat Lake and it is dangerously close to the lagoon in the ecologically sensitive area. None of the government departments and agencies, which are responsible for protecting the fragile ecosystem, are aware of the projects even as private builders are widely marketing the projects.

 

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Concrete threat: Real estate projects have sprung up in the fragile ecosystem of Pulicat Lake that is home to thousands of migratory birds and marine species | Shiba Prasad Sahu

When Express visited the spot, the construction is almost half-way. “We have grand plans of converting this place into tourist hotspot. Many NRIs are showing interest since Pulicat is very close to Chennai and offers a perfect gateway for recreation with pristine beach and historic Lake. Our project is likely to be completed by December 2018. Row of customised villas are planned. A furnished villa with built-up area of 740 sq.ft is billed at `30 lakh,” an employee of an upcoming resort at Vairavan Kuppam, told when reporter posed as a buyer.

In the field visits by Express, it was found that the constructions are coming up in at least three places close to the lake. At Vairavan Kuppam in survey number 16 and 24, a massive resort with fully-furnished villas is being constructed in an area of 12 acres. Already, three villas are nearing finishing stage and another six villas are under construction.

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Boat Club, Poes Garden not spared from pollution: Report

Pushing industries to the city fringes doesn’t help, say activists

If you think that posh residential neighbourhoods such as Boat Club and Poes Garden have lesser pollution levels due to their tree cover, you are mistaken. These areas have recorded high levels of particulate matter that are lesser than 2.5 microns.

Boat Club recorded 104.30 micrograms/cubic metre and Poes Garden 101 micrograms/cubic metre during a 24-hour period last month. According to Central Pollution Control Board standards, anything above 90 micrograms/cubic metre is classified as unhealthy for sensitive groups. The permissible level for 24-hours is 60 microgram/cubic metre.

Members of civil society, residents of north Chennai and doctors, who addressed the media on Wednesday called for putting a stop to air pollution from industries, especially from coal-fired thermal power plants in the north of the city. They also demanded adherence to national standards and no further expansion of high polluting industries in the area.

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Press Release: Scientific Body’s High Tide Line for TN Wrongly Drawn to Create Real Estate: Coastal Activists

Chennai: Nearly 900 acres of tidal wetlands in two locations have been wrongly identified as land by the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) which got a multi-crore contract to demarcate the High Tide Line for Tamil Nadu under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011. This and other inconsistencies were revealed during a ground truthing exercise conducted by the Coastal Resource Centre (CRC). The erroneous demarcation shortchanges fisherfolk by showing tidal waterbodies as developable real estate.

The inconsistencies cast a shadow on NCSCM’s demarcation exercise and the robustness of the verification process by the State and Central Coastal Zone Management Agencies, CRC said. NCSCM’s High Tide Line cannot be relied upon for preparing the State Coastal Zone Management Plans.

NCSCM had denied access to these maps under RTI claiming that disclosure would prejudicially affect their scientific and economic interests. The maps were later accessed through the State Coastal Zone Management Authority.

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In tune with PM Narendra Modi’s can-do business spirit, Environment Ministry set to tweak rules

In a new order, the Environment Ministry will soon replace the existing 2011 notification of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) that manages all activities taking place on the coastline of India.

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In a new order, the Environment Ministry under Prime Minister Narendra Modi will soon replace the existing 2011 notification of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) that manages all activities taking place on the coastline of India. The new order that will soon be implemented by the government will be called Marine and Coastal Regulation Zone (MCRZ) notification, according to report in the Indian Express. This move of the government comes with an aim to make important changes in the way it governs the coast and also to remove the ban on reclamation of land all over the coast line including the ecologically sensitive areas along the shores and to use it for others grounds like commercial, entertainment and even for tourism activities.Read More »

A sea change

Drastic changes to coastal governance rules do not adequately address livelihood and ecological concerns

The government is planning to bring in changes to the way the country’s coasts are governed. A draft Marine and Coastal Regulation Zone (MCRZ) notification is reportedly in the offing. The last Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Rules were notified in 2011. There have been significant changes in land-use along the coast since the CRZ 2011 was notified and it has been argued that a strict implementation of the 2011 rules has led to a neglect of development in coastal areas, particularly in Karnataka, Goa and Kerala. The draft tries to open up coastal areas to development activities, but it does so in a manner that invites accusations that it wavers on its fundamental mandate of protecting coastal ecology and securing the livelihoods of people who depend on marine ecosystems.

The draft proposes to remove the ban on reclamation of land in coastal areas for commercial or tourism activities even in ecologically-sensitive areas. In doing so, it does not adequately acknowledge the idiosyncrasies of coastal areas. Sand dunes, for example, are natural bulwarks against strong sea winds and high waters. Mangroves, the tiny forests along the coastlines, cushion the impact of tidal waves. Flattening them in order to construct tourism infrastructure compromises the coast’s resilience to natural calamities. The new rules continue a trend that began in 2015 with a series amendments to the CRZ 2011. An amendment that year, for example, allowed reclamation of the seabed for constructing roads. Another amendment, last year, allowed commercial establishments like the shacks in Goa to remain erected during the monsoon months.

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