Is Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Justified ?

Introduction
Coastal zones today are the hub of maximum human activity and are under increasing pressure due to high rate of human population growth, development of various industries, mining, fishing, industrial waste effluents and discharge of municipal sewage. It is estimated that by the year 2005, 50% of the world population would be living in the cities and 50% of that long the coastal cities (source: www.gisdevelopment.net ). Such industrial development along the coast has resulted in degradation of coastal ecosystems and diminishing the coastal resources. Thus there is an urgent need to protect the coastal ecosystems and habitats by implementing the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) notification and integrated coastal zone management (CZM) study. Healthy coastal life needs understanding and proper planning of environment, on and around the coast. With these views, the ministry of environment and forest, Government of India issued a notification in the year 1991, under Environment protection act of 1986, declaring coastal stretches as coastal regulation zone (CRZ) and regulating activities in CRZ. The recent Tsunami tragedy of 26th December 2005 which caused major destruction to the life and property located along the coast of Andaman and Nicobar , Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Kerala underlines the urgent need for revisiting our disaster management and coastal infrastructure development strategies.
CRZ – Definition
“Coastal regulation zone is the boundary from the high tide line upto 500m in the land – ward side area between the low tide line. In the case of rivers, creeks and backwaters, the distance from the high tide level shall apply to both sides and this distance shall not be less than 100m or the width of the creek, river or backwater whichever is less.”
(source: Ministry of Environment and Forest Notification, Feb 1994)
There are four categories of CRZ’s.
Category – I (CRZ I)
Areas which are ecologically sensitive and important such as national parks, marine parks, sanctuaries, reserve forests, wildlife habitats, mangroves, corals/coral reefs, areas close to breeding and spawning grounds to fish and other marine life, areas of outstanding natural beauty. Historically important and heritage areas, area rich in genetic diversity, areas likely to be inundated due to rise in sea level consequent upon global warming and such other areas as notified by government from time to time.
Category – II (CRZ II)
Areas that have already been developed up to or close to the shoreline. For this purpose, developed area is referred to as area within the municipal limits or other legally designated urban areas which already substantially build up ad which has been provided with drainage and approach roads and other infrastructure facilities such as water supply and sewerage lines.
Category – III (CRZ III)
Area that are relatively undisturbed ad those which do not belong to either I or II, this will include coastal zone in the rural areas developed or underdeveloped and also areas within municipal limits or in other legally designated urban areas which are not substantially built up.
Category – IV (CRZ IV)
Coastal stretches in the Andaman and Nicobar islands except those designated as category I, II and III.
Coastal Zone Issues
Coastal zones face issues of environment degradation due to following factors.
Destruction of Mangroves
Mangrove vegetation is found in the tropical and subtropical coasts. They are basically land plants growing on sheltered shores, typically on tidal flats, deltas, estuaries, bays, creeks and the barrier islands. The mangrove swamp harbours a complicated community of plants and animals thus forming a distinct Eco-system. In addition to the diversity of the habitat, the mangroves play an important role in sediment repository, stabilizes shoreline, a buffer against storm surges. Compared to the estimate of mangrove spread of the late eighties of 6740 sq.km, the present estimate of 4120 sq.km shows that the mangroves are fast degrading in the country. they are destroyed due to their use as fuel, fodder and conversion of these areas for agricultural, aquacultural and industrial purposes. This happens because mangroves are too often considered wastelands of title or no value unless they are “developed”.
Population Pressure and Urbanisation
It is estimated nearly one quarter of the Indian Population is living along the coastal area. This population is likely to grow in coming years. The settlement along the coast includes large metropolitan cities towns, census towns etc. the shoreline real estate is in strong demand for human settlement agriculture trade industry amenity and marine support activities for shipping, fishing and recreation. While the waterfront expansion maybe necessary or the coastal cities it may jeopardize coastal resources. The sewage let out from these major cities and towns are the major source of pollution of coastal waters. Expansion of townships and cities has put certain ecosystems such as mangroves, salt marshes and mud flats under pressure.
Impact of tourism
The tourism industry is an infrastructure industry, an economic driver and is in intrinsic part of the development of a region. It is the country’s largest employment generator and foreign exchange earner. Due to the high aesthetic value of the coast there is an enormous potential for tourism development. high capital investments in various sectors like beach resorts, location of industrial complexes, human settlements are being planned in the coastal zone for the economic development of the country. the tourism in the coastal areas of India has been on a high growth curve during the last few years and particularly during ’04 – 05’ when the foreign tourist arrivals to places like Kerala and Goa have been growing at 25 to 30%.
Natural Hazards
Storms, cyclones, tidal surges, flooding, erosion etc. bring about large scale destruction of life, property and natural resources in the coastal regions of the country every year. In Bay of Bengal, storm surges attain heights of several meters, causing severe devastation. The 1999 “super cyclone” which devastated the Orissa coast and the Tsunami of 26th December was one of the severest to hit Indian coasts. In addition, heavy monsoonal rainfall and the swelling up of river discharge augment the coastal floods.
In the context of CRZ provisions, during the present episode of tsunami in the Indian coast, the following preliminary observations were made:
The maximum damage has occurred in low lying areas near the cost.
High causalities are found in most thickly populated areas.
The mangroves, forests, sand dunes and coastal cliffs provided the best natural barriers against the tsunami.
Heavy damage is reported in areas where sand dunes were heavily mined (e.g. Nagapatinam & Kolachal) and where coastal vegetation was less.
The buffer provided in the coastal zone were put to test during this event and were found to be reasonably effective even in calamities of this magnitude. This highlights the necessity for effective mechanism to correct our approaches and to incorporate vulnerability indices in the management practices of the coastal zone.
Miscellaneous Issues
Wastewater deposal
Solid waste disposal
Coastal constructions Impact of sports
Impact of aquaculture
Ingress of seawater
Coastal mining
Impact of power plants coastal highways
Salt water intrusion
Sea – level rise due to greenhouse effect
Coastal erosion
Implementation of CRZ notification and implications
The ministry of environment and forests and the department of ocean development are the two nodal departments that deal primarily on the coastal and ocean areas. In addition to this, there are several ministries, departments and the state government bodies looking after several issues relevant to coastal management in this country. the CRZ notification has put many restrictions on the development along the coast. In Maharashtra, with its coast line 720 km and 54 river creeks, significant stretches inland are affected by the CRZ notification. It is posing several challenges for the planners, investors and developers. Various important issues of CRZ notification and implication involved in the process of planning and development are as follows –
Condition regarding mangroves
It is stipulated that in case of mangroves with an area of 1000 m2 or more, would be classified as CRZ with a buffer zone of atleast 50m.
Ecologically sensitive features of demarcation
In order to implement CRZ plan, it would be necessary to demarcate and survey of foreshore and offshore features which are ecologically sensitive such as mangrove, spawning ground of Marine life, corals and other features like wetland, marsh, swamp, bays, estuaries, creeks, bunds and back waters that are influenced by tidal action. Before planning to make the CRZ plan chart, the proper evaluation of the coastal features and their proper measure is highly essential.
Activity
CRZ – I
(i)
CRZ –I
(ii)
CRZ –II
CRZ –III
(HTL – 200)
CRZ –III
(HTL 200 – 500)
CRZ –IV
Agriculture
X

Airstrip
X
X
X
X

Beach resorts
X
X

X

Bridges
X

Commercial complex
X
X

X
X
X
Industry expansion / New
X
X
X
X
X
X
IT parks
X
X
X

X
Post / Harbours
X

SEZ projects
X
X
X

X
Land Reclamation
X

Roads
X
X

X
Sea — Links

Conclusion
Coastal area is vital to the prosperity of country and usually most productive areas, supporting a wealth of marine resources. In recent times, with rapid industrialization, urbanization, resultant pollutions and depleting resources along the coast have resulted in degradation of coastal ecosystem and diminishing the living resources.
In view of above, there is a necessity to prepare CRZ plan and CZM chart for entire coastal zone as per International standard of quality and accuracy. The CRZ plan should give us developed coast with fewer disturbances to the ecological balance rather than to have undeveloped coast. Our goal should not be just conversation but also enhancement of the living and non-living resources of the coastal zone. One should care about the content of CRZ plan chart and use as a tool for development along the coast. Above all, we should create structures for generating coordinated and cooperative action among the different central and state government agencies. The absence of interdepartmental and centre-state coordination is the biggest obstacle to fostering s sustainable coastal zone management strategy.





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