Home >Politics >Policy >Govt makes changes to coastal zone rules to allow construction

New Delhi: The government is yet to accept the report of the expert panel that recommended a complete overhaul of the rules related to the development of coastal areas, yet the environment ministry has, in the past 16 months, made at least eight changes to the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) rules, drawing heavily from the report.

Environmentalists who analysed changes made in the CRZ notification 2011, say that the changes made by the environment ministry pave the way for relaxation of the rules for hotels and resorts and allow memorials and monuments, among other things.

They alleged that the amendments clearly show that the environment ministry wants to pick and choose the changes it wants to effect.

In 1991, India’s first CRZ notification was issued under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The notification empowered the central government to restrict industrial activities and acted as the primary regulation for conservation and protection of India’s 7,500km coastline and protection of coastal livelihoods. It was amended 25 times before being comprehensively revised in 2011.

But in June 2014, the Prakash Javadekar-led ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) constituted a committee under Shailesh Nayak, then secretary in the ministry of earth sciences, to look into issues raised by various coastal states regarding the 2011 CRZ notification.

In January 2015, the panel submitted a 110-page Report of the Committee to Review the Issues Relating to the Coastal Regulation Zone, 2011. Though the ministry is yet to officially put it in the public domain, environmentalist Kanchi Kohli secured a copy after a 16-month fight using the Right to Information.

While the ministry refused to share the report “until accepted", the Central Information Commission ruled otherwise and ordered the ministry to make it public. Read more

If the report is accepted and fully implemented by the environment ministry, it has the potential to trigger a boom in real estate, ports and tourism development in the ecologically sensitive coastal zone. Read more

According to an analysis carried out by Kohli and her team, the changes made through the eight amendments provide relaxations for development of hotels and resorts in CRZ areas, allow memorials and monuments in CRZ areas, allow reclamation in CRZ for roads (earlier reclamation was permitted only for roads on stilts) and devolve powers to the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority to appraise projects which earlier were a responsibility of the MoEFCC.

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