NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is yet to accept the expert committee report on coastal regulation zone but in last 18 months it has already issued eight amendments to the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011 based on committees’ report. These include allowing hotels, resorts to be developed in CRZ, simplifying clearance procedures and delegation of powers to states.
Of these eight, four were issued as drafts seeking public comments. These amendments draw extensively from the “Report of the Committee to Review the issues relating to the Coastal Regulation Zone, 2011”.
The report was drafted by a six-member committee set up in June 2014 and headed by Shailesh Nayak, the then Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences.
“While the report of this committee was never made public by the ministry on the grounds that the report was not approved, these amendments were pushed out,” said Kanchi Kohli of the Centre for Policy Research-Namati Environment Justice Programme.
The Shailesh Nayak Committee completed its meetings with the states and Union Territories (UTs) in October 2014 and in early November 2014 the committee made a presentation before Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on concerns pertaining to CRZ.
While the Committee submitted its report to the MoEFCC in January 2015, the first amendment to the CRZ Notification, 2011 came in as early as the end of November 2014. Since then the Ministry issued seven more amendments to the CRZ Notification.
“Our analysis reveals that all of these are linked to the preliminary and final set of issues identified and recommendations made by the Shailesh Nayak Committee,” said Kohli, who has got the copy of the report under the RTI.
Since 1991, the CRZ Notification has been the primary regulation for conservation of the coast and protection of coastal livelihoods. The notification is implemented by demarcating coastal areas into different zones, regulating land use change in the zones and prescribing proactive conservation measures.
The MoEFCC has relied on several of the changes proposed in it to shape individual amendments to the existing Notification.
Relaxing the existing restrictions on development in coastal areas, the Committee report has proposed for allowing housing infrastructure and slum redevelopment activities, tourism, ports and harbor and fisheries-related activities in coastal regulation zones.
The coastal regulations were last amended in 2011 but several states were not happy, saying it was hampering development in coastal areas. It required development of coastal development plans but several states are yet to submit it. The committee found that the 2011 regulations, especially with regard to construction, have affected the housing, slum redevelopment, redevelopment of dilapidated structures and other dangerous buildings.