ALAPPUZHA: The coast will be clear finally bringing cheer to lakhs of fisherfolk in the state. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) will issue an ordinance next month to amend the much-debated 2011 Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification. It is expected to iron out issues related to construction.
Experts say it will be more beneficial to Kerala as 20 to 25 per cent of its population lives along the coast. They face obstacles in constructing houses and other structures related to their livelihood.
The Centre has proposed changes based on the recommendations of the Shailesh Nayak Committee report. One of the major proposals is the removal of hindrances to the construction and maintenance of fishermen’s houses. It also allows temporary structures along the coast for the benefit of tourists.
The Committee was appointed after amendments were suggested by Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal as well as the Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Puducherry.
Kerala had sought permission to build houses in the CRZ areas as well as the reduction of the No Development Zone’s (NDZ) ambit from 100m to 50m on the coast and from 50m to 10m on the banks of inland water bodies and backwaters. It also demanded the extension of authorised residential structures and roads within 50 metres of backwaters.
“The state had asked the Centre to amend the notification for development of the fishing community,” Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority chairman James Varghese told Express. Around 2,500 applications related to construction of houses are pending in the government departments. The CRZ notification adversely affected the development of coastal areas and people,” he said.
“The CRZ notification badly affected the fishing population in the state,” said Kerala Swatantra Matsya Thozhilali Federation general secretary Jackson Pollayil. “The Local Self Government Departments (LSGD) denied permits for construction and renovation and thousands of applications have been pending,” he said.
However, NGOs and environmental and fishermen’s organisations have raised concerns about the proposed amendment. Jackson alleged the chances of misusing the amendment would be high.
“While fishermen run from pillar to post to get a permit from LSGD, big sharks will construct hotels and resorts along the coast with temporary permits. This will be regularised with the proposed amendment,” he said.
“The amendment will provide relief to fishermen, though it will cause ecological degradation,” said environmentalist and AAP state convener C R Neelakandan. “Encroachment with political support is rampant in the state.
The Supreme Court had asked the state to remove all encroachments along the Vembanad Lake, but the rulers are not ready to remove it. These kinds of large-scale violations will increase after the amendment,” he said.