New coastal law notification is too restrictive: CII

June 26th, 2008 - 9:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 26 (IANS) The draft of Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) notification issued by the central government is “too restrictive” and takes care of only the environment and ecological aspects while overlooking the developmental needs, said an industry body here Thursday. “The draft should instead give more freedom to the states and ask them to prepare integrated coastal zone plans, keeping in mind the needs of the people and those of development,” said K.P. Niyati, environmental policy division head the Confederation of Indian Industry.

The draft notification divides the coastal area into three zones - CMZ-I, CMZ-II and CMZ-III - depending on the vulnerability of the coastal stretches to man-made or natural hazards.

No developmental activities are allowed in CMZ-I, which comprises ecologically sensitive areas (ECA) like nesting ground for birds, mangrove habitations, marine parks and mud flats.

The notification allows only creation of basic infrastructure like roads, cyclone or floods shelters and drainage in the CMZ-II areas, which are identified as “areas of particular concern (APC)”.

Areas which are neither ecologically sensitive nor areas of particular concern, figure in CMZ-III, where developmental activities are allowed.

Speaking on the sidelines of a workshop on the CMZ regulation organised by the CII, Niyati said: “The draft seeks to regulate and impose blanket restrictions on certain industrial and development activities in coastal areas which could be harsher than the existing Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) dispensation.”

The CRZ Act, 1991, which put a blanket ban on development activities up to a 500 metre area from the high tide line, had led to problems in implementation following legal battles and protests.

The environment ministry formed an expert committee under M.S. Swaminathan in 2004, and based on its report in 2005, the draft CMZ notification has been issued.

Niyati said while industries have opposed stringent provisions of the draft, states like Maharashtra, Kerala and Orissa have also expressed their disapproval.

“We suggest that the process of demarcating various zones be decentralised. We feel the process should be made more flexible, and the decisions on preparing integrated coastal zone management plans be left entirely to the states.”

As per the draft, the states would prepare coastal zone management plans which have to be approved and notified by the union environment ministry.

Asked about the West Bengal government’s proposal to construct a chemical hub on Nayachar island in East Midnapore district, he said: “My feeling is that the chemical hub cannot come up as it will have to be on mud flats or sand dunes. But even if they (state government) do it, they have to make suitable formulations for the area of particular concern”.

Ashoke Nath Basu, chairman of West Bengal Pollution Control Board, said although it was imperative to focus on coastal environment, if the people residing in the coastal zones were given secondary consideration, the objective of the coastal management could not be achieved.

West Bengal Environment Secretary M.L. Meena called for a pragmatic coastal management policy.

The draft CMZ notification was issued in May, and the final act is likely to come into effect in 2011.

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