Centre approves new norms for development in coastal zones

The Centre has approved new norms to regulate development activities in coastal zones along India’s over 7,500-km of coastline, decentralising Coastal Regulation Zone clearance procedures, de-freezing ‘floor area ratio’ for construction projects and allowing temporary tourism infrastructure for basic amenities in beaches and in rural coastal areas.

Besides, a ‘No Development Zone’of 20 metres from High Tide Line is earmarked for all islands close to the main land coast and for all backwater islands in the main land under the new norms — the CRZ Notification, 2018 — which got Cabinet’s approval on Thursday.

Under new norms, coastal zones along rural areas will be bifurcated, based on population density, to regulate development activities. These changes will promote eco-tourism activities in identified stretches subject to permissions, and address livelihood concerns of fishing and certain other local communities in rural coastal zones.

“It won’t only result in significant employment generation but also lead to better life and add value to the economy. The new notification is expected to rejuvenate the coastal areas while reducing their vulnerabilities,” said environment ministry on Friday.

Permitted tourism infrastructure include temporary constructions such as shacks, toilet blocks, change rooms and drinking water among others on beaches and even in NDZ of the CRZ-III (rural) areas. However, a minimum distance of 10 metres from HTL will have to be maintained for setting up such facilities.

The ministry said, “The new notification will boost tourism in terms of more activities, more infrastructure and more opportunities and will certainly go a long way in creating job opportunities in tourism. This will also give boost to people, desirous of seeing and enjoying the beauty of the mighty seas.”

Though the Centre claimed the move will lead to enhanced activities in the coastal regions thereby creating “additional opportunities for affordable housing” and promoting economic growth while also respecting the conservation principles of coastal regions, environmentalists said that the new CRZ norms will just open up fragile inter-tidal areas to real estate agents.

“The coastline is already vulnerable due to erosion, fresh water crisis and loss of livelihoods. The new changes will only increase this vulnerability and promote commercialisation of the coast,” said Kanchi Kohli, environment campaigner and researcher with the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research.

However, the relaxations under the CRZ Notification, 2018, will come into force only after the states revise or update their respective Coastal Zone Management Programmes under the new norms. Currently, activities in coastal zones are regulated by the CRZ notification of 2011.

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