Environment Support Group
CampaignsCoastCommonsOther Reports & DocumentsResources

Excerpts from the Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests Two Hundred and Second Report on Coastal Management Programmes

2. Efficacy of CRZ notification has been assessed differently by different stakeholders. While NGOs – proactive in protecting coastal environment and local communities feel that it is an effective tool and stringent enforcement mechanism should be put in place to implement the notification, the pro-development ideologists – which include industries, tourism sector and Central as well State Govt. to a certain level take it to be a taboo. To sum up the issue it may be said that the working of the notification has been a mix of success and failure. The onus of failure lies on those who are the saviours. It is more the absence of firm resolve and strong will-power to enforce the regulation that has failed the notification rather than the notification itself – as is the case with most of the environmental legislation. CRZ rules are being observed more in the breach rather in adherence and this had the tacit support of the administration – Central or State or both. A number of violations of CRZ area have taken place. Destruction of sensitive ecology such as mangroves, coral reefs, breeding sites of endangered species, illegal constructions in ‘No Development Zone’ without adhering to the norms are some of the major violations of the notification. State Govts. have their own alibi in not having sufficient infrastructure to take strict action against violations.”

“This Notification raised a lot of heat and dust/unrest among the coastal communities and they became very restive and agitated, since they felt that it is an attempt on the part of the Government to deprive them of their life and livelihood by displacing them from coastal areas, which has traditionally sustained their life and livelihood. It was in this background that the Committee decided to take up this subject for consideration and examination. Besides inviting memoranda/views/comments from the individuals/ organizations…”

“The Committee finds that for a community of nearly 250 million people living within a distance of 50 kms. from the coast, CEE could manage to organise 35 public consultations in nine coastal States and was able to interact with 3714 individuals belonging to various stakeholder groups…”

10. Around 20 per cent of the population in the country dwells in coastal areas and they depend mainly on fisheries to eke out their livelihood. It is estimated that the fishermen population living along the coastal areas of the country is around 67,30,300 as per livestock census of 1992. The Committee is of the opinion that development should be people and not solely economics oriented. As such the concerns of the poor and marginalized sections of the coastal communities, the Committee feels, must be reflected and addressed in State Policy. No attempt should be such as to divorce the people from their cultural life-style and traditional livelihood or interfere with practices that have sustained communities over three millenniums and more. The Committee is of the opinion that in a country like ours, where a large number of populace depend on natural resources for their survival, social dimensions of livelihood security and biodiversity conservation should be pivotal to all decision making pertaining to development or economic considerations of revenue generation. But the Committee is constrained to observe that these dimensions have not been adequately incorporated in implementation of environmental laws and regulations by the State as a result of which interventions by vigilant public interest groups supported by the positive attitude of the judiciary have played a key role in protecting and conserving environmental resources. India’s natural resources – land, water, forest and air are getting depleted and polluted at an alarming pace and the communities who live on them for their livelihood are being constantly marginalized and displaced.”

11. The Committee is of the opinion that Govt. should not make haste in implementing the CMZ notification without addressing the conflict of interests between the stakeholders – mainly the fisher folk/coastal communities and all out efforts must be made first to assuage their feelings and meet their concerns which the Committee feels, is not unfound, through education, social mobilization and their active participation and involvement in decision making. Panchayats can play a crucial role in generating awareness among them. For this, Govt. should get the CMZ notification translated into local languages and circulated widely in every village/hamlet so that the local communities are made aware of the actual implications of the notification and are not swayed by hearsay or guided by misgivings about it. Govt. may also seriously think of bringing out a legislation to ensure protection of rights of coastal communities to coastal resources on the lines of the one meant for forest dwellers.”

12. The Committee, in view of the above, recommends that the implementation of CMZ notification be kept pending/ in abeyance till mechanisms/instruments-executive and legislative are put in place for inclusion and integration of coastal communities through participative, decision making and control instruments.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *