KOCHI: The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification approved by the Union Cabinet has evoked mixed response in the state. Though the coastal populace welcome the reduction of No Development Zone (NDZ) and the de-freezing the Floor Area Ratio (FAR), they vehemently oppose the decision to allow development of basic infrastructure for tourism development as they fear it will displace the fishermen from the coastal areas.
Various fishermen organisations have called for a nation-wide protest against the notification.
Meanwhile, Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma told Express that the state government will not seek amendments or oppose the new notification.
Approving the notification, the state government noted it will promote economic growth while respecting the conservation principles of coastal regions. It will result in significant employment generation and rejuvenate the coastal areas while reducing their vulnerabilities, the government said in a release.
Welcoming the decision to relax the restrictions on construction of houses in the coastal areas, Mercykutty Amma urged the Centre to initiate steps to safeguard the interests of the fishermen community. “The relaxation of CRZ regulations will be beneficial to the fishermen as they will be able to build houses. But it should not be misused to facilitate the corporates and real estate firms to impinge on the rights of the coastal community.
We should promote responsible tourism which will be helpful for the development of the coastal community. It should not lead to a situation where the coastal people are displaced from their traditional lands,” she said. Rejecting the proposed CRZ Notification, the National Fish Workers Forum called for nation-wide protests demandinga total withdrawal of the notification. The sole purpose of the notification is to pave the way to sell off the coastal land and water to corporate business houses, said general secretary T Peter.
The CRZ 2011 had guaranteed environmental protection and livelihood security to the coastal community. Whilethe failuree to implement the CRZ 2011 rested squarely with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) and the respective state governments, the relevance of CRZ-2011 was still high. The intentions of this government is to hand over the coasts to the corporates and the tourism lobby, he said.
The Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi (TUCI) has decided to launch a nation-wide protest campaign demanding the withdrawal of the CRZ notification. “The notification is aimed at providing legal sanctity to the encroachments on coastal land . This will lead to the destruction of the coastal ecosystem and eventually lead to surrendering the coastal land to the construction-tourism-real estate lobbies,” said state president Charles George.
He said the CPM-led state government favoured the relaxation of CRZ norms, which was causing concern among the coastal people.
“Though many cases are pending before the Kerala High Court and the Supreme Court regarding the encroachments on backwater islands, the state government has not effectively presented its arguments facilitating the encroachments to continue. The state government should put pressure on the Union Government to restrict the relaxations on CRZ to the coastal community,” he said.