KOCHI: The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification 2018, approved by the Union Cabinet on Friday, has caused concern among the environmentalists as well as the fishermen community. While the green activists fear that the notification will lead to a construction spree in the coastal areas, the fishermen are worried that the entry of the tourism sector will attract the real estate lobbies, who will eventually displace the coastal community and deny them the access to the seas.
“The notification will give an impetus to tourism activities like shacks on beaches, while the No Development Zone (NDZ) for riverine and backwater islands has been reduced to 20 metres. Kerala with five Corporations, 36 municipalities and 246 panchayats located on CRZ areas will benefit from the notification as it will allow people with small land holdings to build houses. However, the entry of the tourism sector will lead to an increase in land value and displace the fishermen from their traditional lands. The Floor Area Ratio, which was frozen at 1991 level has been relaxed to the present day and it will adversely affect the coastal area protection,” said Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) former vice chancellor B Madhusoodana Kurup.
The notification has divided CRZ III into A and B and areas with a population exceeding 2,161 persons per sq km has been given relaxation. The NDZ in islands has been reduced to 20 m from 50 m which will lead to increased development activities in the 300 odd backwater islands in Kerala.
“The notification violates the balance between ecosystem and development. The mandatory 50 m buffer zone for mangrove forest in private land with an expanse of more than 1,000 sq m has been done away with. This will affect the coastal ecosystem,” said a green activist. “The notification has given relaxation in Coastal Regulatory Zone and this will be helpful for people with small land holdings.
However, the concerns of the green activists regarding unbridled construction activities on the coastal areas need to be addressed,” said National Centre for Earth Science Studies scientist K K Ramachandran. “We had warned the government against gifting the coastal area to the tourism sector in the name of fishermen,” said Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi president Charles George.