MANGALURU: Then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in a letter to all chief ministers, on November 27, 1981, had insisted that no construction was to take place within 500 metres of High Tide Line (HTL).
When state governments continued to treat coastal places as ‘wastelands’ to be put to economic use and to be industrialised, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) under clause section 3(1) of Environment (Protection) Act (EPA)-1986 promulgated Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification of 1991.
During these 25 years, CRZ notification (land use document) was subjected to multiple reviews and 25 amendments. Eight committees were set up to suggest ways on implementing the notification.
These earlier forms were replaced by a new notification in 2011 (incidentally, 2011 legislation has undergone six amendments).
“The outcome of implementing CRZ notification has been of no use to ecology or coastal communities spread across 73 districts in nine states,” reveals New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research (CPR)-Namati Environment Justice (EJ) Programme in its first such study on functioning of the institution for coastal regulation in the country.
“Conservation is a low priority at all levels,” said Meenakshi Kapoor of CPR, who was in the city to submit the study’s findings at a seminar on challenges of coastal governance in Karnataka organised in College of Fisheries. She said on the Supreme Court’s intervention, Coastal Zone Management Authority (CZMA) was formed to oversee implementation of CRZ at state and national levels in 1999.
“With most members being government employees holding full time positions in other departments, SCZMA and NCZMA have been functioning as part-time bodies,” Meenakshi rued.
On an average, 15 projects are considered in a half-a-day meeting and rate of approval for projects in CRZ across nine SCZMAs is 80 pc (from 1998-2014, 3,600 of 4,500 proposals approved), she said. It was only in 367 projects reports of site visits were submitted.
Though mandatory under the notification, there are no regular ‘post-clearance site visits’. Sometimes, SCZMAs take their own decision as in case of Karnataka SCZMA which recommended construction of a helipad in Karwar, within 200 metres of HTL in 2009, the study adds.Thus in the absence of post-clearance visits, limited involvement of citizens, lack of resources and response from other government departments, SCZMAs have not been proactive in recording violations.
World Bank-funded Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP) is being implemented in Gujarat, Odisha and West Bengal. One of the goals is to strengthen and ensure effective SCZMAs in three states.