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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Shipping Ministry Opposes Pondy Port

A Times of India article dated 8 April 2010 reports that the Shipping Ministry, as well as the Union Home Ministry, opposes the multi-crore deep water port proposed by the Puducherry government.  The Shipping Ministry argues in an affidavit that Puducherry, a Union Territory, does not have the power to approve contracts exceeding Rs. five crore without the consent of the Union government.  The estimated cost of the proposed port in Pondicherry is Rs. 2,700 crores.

Based on the findings of a special audit team, the Home Ministry filed a recall application of a Supreme Court judgment upholding a Madras High Court order in favor of the Puducherry government.  The special audit team reports that the Puducherry government did not exercise due diligence before awarding the contract to a private company and did not incorporate adequate safeguards in the agreement with the developer.  The Shipping Ministry is also urging the Court to recall its judgment.

The full text of the article may be found here.

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To Save the Planet, Save the Seas

Dan Laffoley, marine vice chairman of the World Commission of Protected Areas at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has an excellent op-ed published on 26 December 2009 in the New York Times titled: To Save the Planet, Save the Seas.

He argues for a program similar to Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) (under which developing countries would be compensated for preserving forests, peat soils, swamps and fields that are efficient absorbers for carbon dioxide) for the world’s oceans.

Few people may realize it, but in addition to producing most of the oxygen we breathe, the ocean absorbs some 25 percent of current annual carbon dioxide emissions. Half the world’s carbon stocks are held in plankton, mangroves, salt marshes and other marine life. So it is at least as important to preserve this ocean life as it is to preserve forests, to secure its role in helping us adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Laffoley writes that the most efficient natural carbon sink is found not on land but in the ocean – a species of sea grass called the Posidonia oceanica, which forms vast “meadows” underwater.

Worldwide, coastal habitats like these are being lost because of human activity. Extensive areas have been altered by land reclamation and fish farming, while coastal pollution and overfishing have further damaged habitats and reduced the variety of species. It is now clear that such degradation has not only affected the livelihoods and well-being of more than two billion people dependent on coastal ecosystems for food, it has also reduced the capacity of these ecosystems to store carbon.

Coastal and marine habitats such as salt marshes, kelp forests and sea grass meadows should be protected and restored to mitigate climate change.

Managing these habitats is far less expensive than trying to shore up coastlines after the damage has been done. Maintaining healthy stands of mangroves in Asia through careful management, for example, has proved to cost only one-seventh of what it would cost to erect manmade coastal defenses against storms, waves and tidal surges.

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Report of the Expert Committee on the Draft CMZ Notification

The report of the expert committee on the draft Coastal Management Zone notification, titled: Final Frontier, Agenda to protect the ecosystem and habitat of India’s coast for conservation and livelihood security, was delivered to the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) on 16 July 2009.  The expert committee was chaired by M.S. Swaminathan and included Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences; J.M. Mauskar, Additional Secretary, MoEF, and Sunita Narain, Director, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

The full report can be viewed here.

The summary of the recommendations are:

  • Let the CMZ Notification, 2008 lapse and incorporate amendments as recommended in the existing CRZ Notification, 1991 for better coastal management.
  • Check violations to CRZ through improved space technology-enabled enforcement, strengthened institutions, and regulatory and legal reform.
  • Enhance protection to fishing communities and families for habitat and livelihood security through amendments in the CRZ Notification.
  • Resolve issues regarding the development and redevelopment of Mumbai, based on locale-specific amendments.
  • Introduce regulations to manage the proliferation of ports along the coasts with possible impacts on the coastline by considering cumulative impacts of these developments.
  • Introduce tighter standards for disposal of effluents into coastal waters so that these waters do not become cheaper alternatives to inland pollution management.
  • Introduce new management regimes in the Andaman and Nicobar as well as Lakshadweep Islands after deliberation and discussion.
  • Introduce any new protection regime – such as critically vulnerable coastal areas – after careful and deliberate understanding of the impact of conservation policies on local communities, particularly fisher families.
  • Strengthen protection to mangroves based on clear definitions.
  • Include the seaward side to ensure protection from current and future threats, but with safeguards to ensure there is no restriction to livelihoods of fishing communities.
  • Introduce measures to greatly strengthen research and regulatory capacity at all levels.
  • Introduce policies to cope with and adapt to the future dangers from sea level rise and increased vulnerability of the coasts.

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Saving India’s Beaches: Dr. Sunita Narain, CSE, on Moratorium on New Ports – NDTV Report

July 22, 2009

Dr. Sunita Narain, Director of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a member of an expert committee on coastal management (headed by M.S. Swaminathan and including Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences; and J.M. Mauskar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests), speaks about the acceptance by the Minister of Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, of the recommendations by the expert committee for a moratorium on new port development in India pending a study on the cumulative effects of all the existing ports in India.

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Saving India’s Beaches: Jairam Ramesh’s Responses – NDTV Reports

June 22, 2009

In the report above, Jairam Ramesh, the Minister of Environment and Forest, declares his priority to ensure that the CMZ 2009 does not adversely affect the livelihood of fisher families as well as doing an inventory of port development.

July 7, 2009

In the video above, Vivekanandan, member of the South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies (SIFFS), reports on his meeting with Jairam Ramesh.  In his meeting, the Minister has agreed that the CMZ, in it’s current form, will be allowed to lapse and a new process of dialogue with the fishing community will start, including 5 consultations across the coast (Chennai, Bhuvaneshwar, Cochin, Goa and Bombay) to provide feedback to help the ministry to re-work or improve the CRZ.

July 7, 2009

In the report above, NDTV interviews Jairam Ramesh and Probir Banerjee, President of PondyCAN.  Probir Banerjee speaks of the water and food security issues as a result of port and SEZ (Special Economic Zone) development.  Jairam Ramesh has commissioned a study of the overall, cumulative impacts of the port developments.

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Goa’s Vanishing Coastline – NDTV Report

This report in the NDTV Series, Save India’s Beaches, deals with the loss of 60 meters of beaches in the years that a ship, the River Princess, ran aground off the coast of Goa, one of India’s primary beach tourism destinations.

The text of the report is here:

Goa’s vanishing coastline
Tejas Mehta
Sunday, June 14, 2009, (Goa)

One of the world’s most beautiful and popular stretches of white sand are the Goa beaches.

One stormy monsoon night in the year 2000, a 240 m long ship, River Princess, broke its anchor and got stuck here. Since then it hasn’t budged.

The result? Twenty thousand tonnes of rusting metal, on Goa’s famous beaches. This has led to an environmental disaster as these beaches are now almost on the verge of disappearing as the ship interferes with the natural movement of sand.

The Goa government has been accused of inaction, of doing little to remove this ship. Now, 9 years later, just before this monsoon, they seem to have woken up. The government is placing massive tubes, which they hope will serve as artificial sand dunes, like shock-absorbers between the land and the sea. Tubes that have cost Rs 6 crore.

Almost 10 metres into the seabed, the ship blocks sand that moves along the beach feeding it.

The National Institute of Oceanography in Goa says 60 metres of the beach, south of the ship has already disappeared.

The government even introduced a new law that enabled them to confiscate the ship.

But its owner, Anil Salgaoncar, an influential business tycoon and an independent MLA dragged them to court where the matter is still pending.

“It’s the result of 10 years of rank incompetence. And this is all over the country when it comes to management of the beaches. The government thinks they don’t have to put a single rupee,” said Claude Alvares, Director, Goa Foundation.

They have allowed this to consciously degrade and that is the shameful part.

But the damage is more widespread.

Scientists say, while Goa thrives on tourism, the industry is also responsible for coastal degradation.

With no one to monitor its 100 kms coast line sand dunes and vegetation on the beaches have been wiped off destroying much of the coasts’ natural defence system.

It is a situation that is distressing a 80-year-old Goan.

“This is not my Goa anymore. The glory of the old beaches is lost,” says Joseph Menezes, Resident, Goa.

Back at the Candolim beach, the beach is gone and tourists have reduced.

Now, this monstrous disaster where the silhouette of the ship can be seen as the wave crashes on shore, is the new attraction.

The carnival in Goa as they say just doesn’t stop.

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