Centre drops controversial coastal plan

Separate protection zones for Lakshadweep and Andamans


The draft coastal management zone, 2008 notification would be allowed to lapse on July 22, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said here on Friday.

The draft notification permitted as many as 15 types of commercial activities including land reclamation, petro-pipelines, defence projects and modernisation and expansion of airports near the 7,500 km-long ecologically-sensitive coastline.

The proposal not only attracted intense criticism from fishermen and civil society organisations, most of the coastal states were also up in arms on the Coastal Management Zone-2008.
Last month Ramesh constituted a four-member panel under the chairmanship of Rajya Sabha member and noted scientist M S Swaminathan to review Coastal Management Zone-2008.

The panel advocates lapsing of the notification, which would be detrimental to the fisher-folk community. The ministry formally accepted the recommendations.

Mere formality

But creating the Swaminathan panel with activist Sunita Narain and two government officials were mere formality, as the United Progressive Alliance-II decided to cancel the CMZ-2008 within three days of the first meeting of the panel, sources told Deccan Herald.
The contentious notification was made on the basis of recommendations from yet another Swaminathan panel, which looked into coastal zone management. That panel was formed in July 2004 when DMK leader A Raja was the Union environment minister. It submitted its recommendations in February 2005 after taking the devastation caused by December 2004 tsunami into account.

Environmentalists charged the 2004 panel for not being sensitive to fishermen and paving the way for commercial development near the coast by proposing four different types of coastal zone management.

Scope

Subsequently enhancing the scope of Swaminathan panel’s recommendations, the Centre in 2008 proposed a draft notification which permits commercial activities. The aim seemed to have stemmed from UPA-I focus on furthering economic activities.

On Friday, Swaminathan said since decisions taken on coastal zone management would help determine the livelihood of nearly 25 per cent of our population and 10 million fisher-folk, regulations should address both ecological and livelihood security.

Separate plan for islands

The government is now planning to have a separate island protection zone for Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Island. Critically vulnerable areas like Sunderbans will be looked at separately. 

For the rest of the country, the original coastal regulatory zone notification of 1991 will continue.

A national-level consultation process will be initiated to find out if CRZ-91 needs more modifications for better coastal zone management.

A national coastal zone management authority and national institute for sustainable coastal zone management were on the cards, Ramesh said.

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