New coastal zone management rules by end of June(With ‘Fishing communities on long march’ story)

May 11th, 2008 - 2:29 pm ICT by admin  

Chennai, May 11 (IANS) The government has sought public comments and objections to the draft of its new coastal zone management (CZM) rules and has said the draft will be finalised by the end of June. The new rules will replace the Coastal Regulation Zone rule 1991 that now governs India’s 7,600-km-long coastline. The new rules will allow integrated ports, harbours, jetties, dredging and disposal of dredged material, reclamation inside the harbour premises and for coastal protection, bridges, sea links and approaches, lighthouses, communication towers, power plants, desalination plants and building of dikes to stop erosion, says the draft.

Besides all this heavy building activity right on the water line (where the sea meets the land), it allows hydrocarbon exploration and extraction, pipelines for transfer of chemicals, petroleum products, regasification facilities, and storage facilities.

It also allows offshore mining, mining of placer materials and “any other activity required for foreshore facilities”. It allows the setting up of shipbuilding and ship-breaking yards and all defence ministry projects.

Mangrove and casuarina can be planted as ‘bioshields’ to stop erosion and temper storm surges. The draft urges coastal communities to move back more than two kilometres inland so that they can escape any disaster from the sea.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOE&F) has to approve the environment impact assessment and the management plan for all these activities on the coastline.

But only the state government’s permission is required to set up effluent treatment plants on the sea shore, to build hotels, resorts and tourism and sports facilities, says the draft. Boat repair and salt farming are two more activities that will now require the state’s nod alone.

In the draft, coastal zone has been defined as an area from the 12 nautical mile territorial water limit to the baseline (wherever this is set by the local authority, not necessarily where sea touches land) and including the seabed.

It also includes the adjacent land area, inland water bodies right up to the landward boundary of the local government - the village or town’s seaward limit.

For the purpose of baseline, the draft has proposed what it calls a setback line. This is an imaginary line “based on its vulnerability to sea level rise, flooding and shoreline change” as per MOE&F guidelines. The government has said sea water level trend data from the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will be used.

The setback line for the entire coast, the draft says, will be notified in one or more stretches at a time in a map. CZM-I and CZM-IV are excluded from this future exercise.

Under CZM-I, that is 200 metres from the water and in the water, will be beaches, mangroves, coral reefs, mudflats, marine wildlife habitats, horseshoe crab and turtle nesting grounds, bird nesting grounds and seaweed fields. This has been designated an “ecologically sensitive area” in the draft.

CZM-IV are the coasts of the islands.

On the seaward side of the setback line, fishing, including traditional fishing, hatcheries, aquaculture, cyclone shelters and public toilets are allowed without the need to take permission from the ministry or local CZM authority.

The draft notification says in CZM-III (from 200m to 500m) activities like resorts, sports facilities and saltpans will be permitted on the seaward side of the setback line with local government and state permission.

CZM-II has been called Areas of Particular Concern (APC) that are “economically and strategically important”. These are coastal panchayats, towns, special economic zones, defence areas, mining and power plants, ports, archaeological sites and industry states. All APC areas will have bio-shields on the seaward side.

Enforcement of the new rules shall be the state government’s responsibility.

The draft says no building construction will be allowed on the seaward side from 2008. Then it lists the exceptions to this rule, a list longer than the rule.

Comments on the draft should be sent to the secretary MO&F at the e-mail address

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