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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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Article in The Hindu: “Integrated coastal management plan sought “

Date:05/05/2009
Staff Reporter

Concern at impact of harbours and ports on coastal ecology

PUDUCHERRY: Concerned about the impact of harbours and ports on the coastal ecology and livelihood resources, members of fishing communities from Puducherry, Karaikal and Tamil Nadu and environment activists emphasised the need for formulating and implementing an integrated coastal management plan taking into account the well-being of the coastal environment and its communities and an effective monitoring programme for the coastal environment, before State governments allowed construction of ports and commercial harbours.

A consultation on the government policies on ports and harbours and its impact on coastal ecology, livelihood resources and fishing communities was organised by Coastal Action Network (CAN) and Pondy Citizens’ Action Network (PondyCAN) on Monday.

Speakers at the consultation said the construction of ports and harbours in the coastal zone had extensive impact on the coastal environment, leading to degradation. This affected the livelihood of families in the coastal communities.

Sudarshan Rodriguez from Dakshin Foundation said there were 199 notified ports, of which 12 were major ports and 187 minor ports. The Central government, in the 11th Five Year Plan, identified 331 ports for development on the mainland, roughly one port for every 20 km.

He said there was poor science and planning in coastal management, development and environment planning and environmental de-regulation of coastal management and environmental impact assessment laws. Many port projects were coupled with Special Economic Zone, rail and highway corridors, he added

Another speaker Gandhimathi of CAN said river courses were affected due to the Karaikal port. Ports affected groundwater, contaminated water sediments, coastal and land ecology and caused beach erosion.

The consultation noted that harbours in Chennai, Ennore, Puducherry, Cuddalore, Karaikal and Nagapattinam have caused damage to the coastline in the form of coastal erosion, salt water intrusion, damage to agriculture and ecology, increased vulnerability to natural calamities.

Consolidating the recommendations put forward during the meet, the participants submitted a resolution that State governments should take appropriate action not to allow construction of ports and commercial harbours unless – coastal areas, which were already damaged due to man-made interventions, have been identified and studied, restored to its pristine and undisturbed condition.

With coastal communities not being consulted for developments along the coastline, the resolutions stressed the need to accept and accord the land rights of fishing and coastal community through a legitimate means and process. A consultative process to take in the views and requirements of all sections of the coastal communities was necessary.

The Coastal Regulation Zone notification related to coastal environment should be implemented properly, the members insisted.

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