: With the Centre releasing the gazette notification on
Coastal regulation zone
will see enhanced activities in the coastal regions where constructions of any kind had been banned for several years.
The new amendment, which reduced the no development zone to 50m from the high tide line (HTL), has been welcomed by people across coastal areas as it enables them to construct houses without having to face technical hurdles.
However, before any activity can be planned, the state will have to ready coastal zone management plans (CZMP) for all coastal districts and local bodies that come under the purview of the notification. There is a growing concern that this could trigger environmental damage in the coastal region.
Experts caution that any plan should be done keeping in mind the vulnerability to floods and inundation. “We have a lot of strict rules, but we are very poor in implementing them and this is what we will have to look into,” said senior scientist at National Centre for Earth Sciences KK Ramachandran, who was a former member secretary, Kerala coastal zone management authority (KCZMA). He said that tourism and eco-tourism activity will have to be monitored. “But, how can it be done as KCZMA is poorly equipped without enough staff. Most members are nominated,” he said.
The state has just developed coastal management plans for several local bodies only recently. “Now, all of it has to be revised. Plans have to be made on a war footing as the notification clearly says that there is no implementation of the new rules without the plan,” said advocate S Sahasranaman, a legal expert on CRZ.
He said that after the plan has been prepared, there has to be a public hearing and it can be finalized as a public document only after that. It would take more than a year because CZMP has to be scientifically made. Ramachandran said that it would be better to identify areas which could be used for tourism activity.
Another important aspect is that the Vembanad Lake area comes under the critical vulnerable coastal areas.
“Already over 3,000 acres have been encroached upon in the past seven years, which has impacted the waterbody, marine life and also the wetland area,” said senior fellow at Bengaluru-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment Priyadarsanan Dharmarajan.
One of the areas that has not been addressed is the private mangroves. Around 50% of the mangroves in the state comes under private property.
In a mangrove spread of more than 1,000 sq m, we have to have a 50m buffer which is essential to protect it from any other human interference.
0“But the private mangroves don’t seem to attract the buffer clause and we in Kerala are also unaware of the total area of private mangroves here,” Ramachandran said.
Highlights of the new notification
I) Densely-populated rural areas to be afforded greater opportunity for development. For CRZ-III (rural) areas, two separate categories have now been stipulated
a) CRZ-III A – Densely-populated rural areas with a population density of 2,161/sq km as per 2011 Census. There will be No Development Zone (NDZ) of 50m from the high tide line (HTL) as against 200m from the HTL stipulated in the CRZ Notification, 2011 since such areas have similar characteristics as urban areas
b) CRZ-III B – Rural areas with population density of below 2,161/sq km as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall continue to have an NDZ of 200m from the HTL
II) Tourism infra for basic amenities to be promoted
Temporary tourism facilities such as shacks, toilet blocks, change rooms, drinking water facilities, etc. have now been permitted in beaches
Such temporary tourism facilities are also permissible in the ‘No Development Zone’ (NDZ) of the CRZ-III areas. However, a minimum distance of 10m from HTL should be maintained
III) Procedure for CRZ clearances streamlined
Only such projects/activities, which are located in the CRZ-I (ecologically-sensitive areas) and CRZ IV (area covered between low tide line and 12 nautical miles seaward) shall be dealt with for CRZ clearance by the ministry of environment, forest and climate change.
The powers for clearances with respect to CRZ-II and III have been delegated at the state level with necessary guidance
IV) NDZ of 20m stipulated for all islands
For islands close to the main land coast and for all backwater islands in the main land, NDZ of 20m has been stipulated
V) All ecologically sensitive areas accorded special importance
Specific guidelines related to their conservation and management plans have been drawn up
VI) Pollution abatement accorded special focus
VII) Defence and strategic projects accorded necessary dispensation