Islands under threat

Islands under threat

Two months after the publication of the CRZ-2018 Notification, the Union Environment Ministry came out with its island equivalent, Island Protection Zone (IPZ) Notification 2018, which environmentalists fear would subject the pristine islands to increased tourism pressure.

According to the new Island Coastal Regulation Zone nomenclature, islands have been grouped into two categories. In Group-I, there are islands with an area of more than 1000 sq km. In Group-II, there are islands of areas of more than 100 sq km and less than 1000 sq km.

The rules are different for the two categories. For the islands, the no development zones have been restricted to 20 mt from the High Tide Line (HTL), which goes against the existing integrated island management plan for small islands. In addition, the IPZ Notification has several other provisions to boost tourism in Andamans and Lakshadweep islands. The changes come at a time when the NITI Aayog is pushing for enhanced economic activities in the islands with a sharp focus on tourism. The aim is to position the islands as ‘exotic island destinations’. Not a word about island ecology and conservation is mentioned in the NITI Aayog document.