Environment Ministry’s Pre-draft CRZ Notification 2010 Rejected by Fishermen, Environmentalists

“Commitments broken, hopes betrayed”

Greenpeace India reports on the rejection of the pre-draft CRZ Notification 2010 by fisherfolk and enviornmentalists in this article below (also found on their website):

The National Coastal Protection Campaign (NCPC), a collective comprising of a broad range of fishworker groups including the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF), fishworker support organisations and environmental groups jointly rejected the Ministry of Environment’s ‘pre-draft’ CRZ 2010 notification for being anti-people, anti-environment and pro-industry (1). Most of the concerns and issues raised during the public consultation process undertaken by Minister Jairam Ramesh between August 2009 and March 2010 have been ignored in the ‘pre-draft’, despite assurances from the Minister that these would be taken on board.

“The ‘pre-draft’ is doubly disappointing as we had high hopes that Mr. Ramesh would ensure a much improved legal regime that would better regulate destructive development on the coast, and protect the livelihoods of traditional fishers”, said V.Vivekanandan, Convenor, NCPC. “The contents of this pre-draft are extremely disappointing as it is grossly inadequate to control the rampant industrialization on the Indian coastline. It also fails to address the dwelling and livelihood rights of the fishing community, providing only token concessions”

Notably, many of the recommendations contained in the “Final Frontier Report”, submitted by the MS Swaminathan committee in 2009, have been completely ignored (2). On the issue of port development, the Swaminathan committee had recommended a moratorium on new ports until their cumulative impacts were studied (3). However, the pre-draft makes no effort to control the growth of ports through a zoning system that keeps port developments at least 25 km. away from the most critical habitats (CRZ 1 areas), as suggested by many.

“The issue of the carrying capacity of the coastline with reference to developmental projects is completely missing. The proliferation of mega ports near CRZ1 and other ecologically sensitive areas has been a matter of controversy for some time now, from Dhamra on the eastern coast, to Mundra and Tadri on the west. Not only does the pre-draft ignore this burning issue, it is opening up coastal areas to further unsustainable development,” said Sanjiv Gopal, Oceans Campaign Manager, Greenpeace India.

There are currently over 300 ports proposed along the coast of mainland India, of which over 200 are notified (4). This would translate to roughly a port every 20-25 km! Besides its own impact, port development is invariably accompanied by other industries, power plants, railway lines, highways, hotels, SEZs, residential complexes, etc. that can have multiple detrimental impacts on the coast. The premise for port expansion on this scale also needs to be questioned given that all major ports are currently under-utilised and operating below capacity.

“There has been a consistent demand to recognise the rights of fishing communities in management and protection of the coasts. This requires a fundamental shift from providing concessions to recognising the rights of fishing communities” said Matanhy Saldanha, Chairperson, National Fishworkers Forum and former Minister for Tourism, Government of Goa. “We are calling on the Ministry to incorporate the specific inputs that have been provided to them by groups such as the NCPC and the National Fishworkers’ Forum, and come out with a notification that strengthens, not dilutes, the protection of India’s coasts and the communities that depend on them,” he concluded.

Notes to Editors:
(1)The NCPC is a platform of fishworker organizations, environmental and conservation groups who are concerned about coastal and marine issues. Its membership is broad based and includes the National Fishworkers Forum, South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies, Tamilnadu – Pondicherry Fisherpeople’s Federation, International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group, Greenpeace India, World Wide Fund for Nature, Conservation Action Trust, Centre for Education and Communication, Pondy Citizen’s Action Network, Dakshin Foundation and TRINet, amongst others. Refer to http://greenpeace.in/turtle/docs/letters-to-moef-on-crz-proposals for Greenpeace and NCPC’s submission to the MoEF.

(2)In July 2008, the MoEF issued a draft notification under sub section (1) and clause (v) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986) inviting suggestions and objections from the public. In response, the MoEF received large number of suggestions and objections on this draft notification, which was examined by a committee under the Chairmanship of Prof. M. S.Swaminathan. This committee after examination of the comments received submitted the Report titled Final Frontier”. This Report recommended to let the draft Coastal Management Zone Notification, 2008 lapse and to strengthen the CRZ Notification, 1991. The MoEF accepted the recommendations of this Report and let the draft CMZ Notification, 2008 lapse and undertook public consultations with fishermen and coastal communities and other civil society representatives, across the eight coastal states, between August 2009 and March 2010. These consultations were organized by Centre of Environmental Education (CEE), who submitted the Report of the consultation process in 25th March, 2010

(3)Refer to http://envfor.nic.in/mef/cmz_report.pdf “page 20 – Introduce regulations to manage the proliferation of ports along the coasts, with possible impacts on the coastline, by considering cumulative impacts of these developments.”

(4)The Working Group Report on Shipping and Inland Water Transport for the Eleventh Five Year Plan – http://planningcommission.gov.in/aboutus/committee/wrkgrp11/wg11_ship.pdf

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Environment Ministry’s Pre-draft CRZ Notification 2010 Rejected by Fishermen, Environmentalists

  1. Aakansha Mehta

    The Olive Ridley Turtles are not affected by the Dhamra Port construction. They appeared at the Gahirmatha nesting beach for mass nesting, twice this year. Around 3.5 lakh Olive Ridley turtles successfully laid eggs during the annual nesting season 09-10. The nesting season spanned from February 24 to March 20. For more details: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/turtle-nesting-at-gahirmatha-set-aside-green-concerndhamra/389846/

    • Blue Ocean

      The reporters and editors of the Business Standard newspaper appear to be in a great hurry to jump to conclusions. Impacts that are caused by the construction and operation of harbours take some time to appear. One doesn’t need to be a nuclear scientist or an astrophysicists to understand or recognize such a simple fact.

      Take for instance the shoreline and ecosystem change that invariably takes place once the shoreline is disturbed by harbour construction and maintenance operations such as dredging. Man-induced shoreline and ecosystem change do not happen overnight and very often take some time, but once the process of environmental
      degradation starts and continues for long enough, then the negative effects of such man-induced changes become increasingly apparent with time. This process of man-induced environmental degradation caused by ports is not a new phenomenon in India and there are numerous such instances.

      So why is it that the reporters and editors of Business Standard fail to pick up and even ignore to report about these environmental problems? Could it be that it doesn’t suit their Business Standard? It is common knowledge that the media is hands in glove with Public Relations companies whose job is to promote their client’s vested interests.

      So if the media really thinks that this year’s turtle nesting will set aside the green concerns over the Dhamra Port, it is either acting in deep ignorance, or just playing to the tune of its pay masters.

  2. Gaurav Agarwal

    The Tatas have arranged for an alternative livelihood solution to the fishermen community living in the areas surrounding Dhamra Port region. These fishermen face hardship from November to March every year as the Orissa State Government evokes ban on fishing during this time due to mass nesting of the Olive Ridley turtles in this region. As a measure in that direction, three tourist boats were provided to the fishermen in the Dhamra Port area, which will provide transportation to the tourists from Kharinasi to Hukitula Island. Tata Steel has always strived to improve the quality of life of people in and around its project area.

    • Blue Ocean

      It looks like the propaganda machinery of the Tatas is at work!

      What the Tatas are doing by providing a couple of tourist boats to the local fishing communities at Dhamra is mere tokenism. Such gestures would’ve even been laughable if they weren’t pitiable! Come one, who are they trying to dupe?!

      If the Tatas are REALLY SERIOUS about their social and environmental responsibilities then let them come out with a detailed cost benefit analysis and an ecological risk assessment of the Dhamra port project wherein they take into account among other things all the costs of all the ecological services and functions that their port has disrupted.

      Then let us see if the three tourists boats that they have provided is a fair compensation for the environmental, social and economic costs caused by the disruption of ecological services and functions that their harbour is causing.

  3. This process of man-induced environmental degradation caused by ports is not a new phenomenon in India and there are numerous such instances. A proper precaution can be taken by all the concerned people in this regard and thus this problem can be controlled to some extent.

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