Staff shortage hampers enforcement of CRZ rules

360 violations registered in three coastal districts

 The Environment department is required to implement the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) notification in about 320 km of Karnataka’s coastline, ensuring that there are no violations in the restricted areas. However, a little less than 10 officials are manning this vast shoreline for about a decade now.

The three coastal districts of Uttar Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, with some of the most ecologically sensitive habitats, have so far recorded over 360 CRZ violations. According to officials, many more violations have remained unaccounted for due to various reasons, including political interference.

Though CRZ was first notified in the year 1991, its implementation started only after 2002, when the State government set up the offices of the regional directors, environment, in the three districts.

Each of these offices were sanctioned eight posts, with the posts of the regional director, technical assistant, assistant director (fisheries), surveyor and draftsman being crucial.
The government has, however, failed to appoint surveyors and draftsmen, whose primary responsibility is to measure and map the coastline, leaving the handful of officials scrambling about as the work load mounts.

T Balachandra, Regional Director, Environment, Udupi said that the post of surveyor was vacant from November, 2006 and that of draftsman since the inception of the office.

Transfer of officials and continued violation of rules by implementing agencies such as municipalities and revenue department were hampering effective implementation of CRZ notification. “Added to the staff crunch is the interference by local elected representatives, which always compounds the problem,” he added. Udupi, with a coastline of 105 km, has recorded over 120 violations over 10 years.

In Uttar Kannada

The Uttara Kannada office is no better and has just three personnel. Regional Director Ramnarayan Bhat said that six of the eight posts were vacant in his office. “After repeated requests, the government has asked us to take the assistance of retired persons,” he added.

Uttara Kannada includes Karwar and Kundapur, both declared as ‘Critically Vulnerable Coastal Areas’ by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

It has seen large-scale violations on its coasts of Karwar, Ankola, Honnavar, Kumta and Bhatkal. The district has also witnessed CRZ violations in pilgrim and tourist centers of Murudeshwara and Gokarna. It has been established that the six properties on the shores of Murudeshwara, including a resort and a hotel owned by businessman R N Shetty are in gross violation of rules.

Violations have also been recorded by government agencies. The property of the State-owned Jungle Lodges and Resorts Devbagh, an island off Karwar, falls under the category of CRZ 1, comprising ecologically sensitive areas within 100 metres of the shoreline. Uttara Kannada has a 162-km coastline and has recorded 106 violations.

In Dakshina Kannada  

The office of the Regional Director here too is functioning with five personnel, minus the surveyor and draftsman. With a coastline of around 48 km, the district has recorded 139 violations. Assistant Director of Fisheries Mahesh said that the staff crunch and lack of logistic support were hampering the process of creating awareness among the people and authorities.

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