Statement Against Implimentation of CMZ sign now

We, the undersigned, wish to register our strongest objections to the current move of the Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoEF) to introduce a new Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Notification to replace the existing Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification of 1991. That a step of such profound consequences for coastal people and ecosystems is being undertaken without any effort at consulting key stakeholders such as fishing communities raises basic questions about the integrity, the motives and the interests underlying the move.

We note with the gravest concern that the MoEF is choosing to act upon the recommendations of the MS Swaminathan Expert Committee Report, a report that since its release in 2005 has been comprehensively rejected by fish workers unions, coastal communities, environmental groups, trade unions, democratic rights organizations, womens organizations and many others.

Protective coastal regulation already exists in the country by way of the CRZ Notification of 1991 and our long-standing demand has been for its stringent implementation. We know that it is not the lack of legal provision but rather its repeated dilution through innumerable amendments and its blatant violation by commercial and political interests that has created havoc in the lives of fishing communities and imperiled fragile coastal ecosystems.

The MS Swaminathan Committee Report and the MoEF however have made no mention of the innumerable violations of existing regulation. What instead is being proposed is that regulation itself be scrapped in favor of a new notification on coastal management. Enacting new legislation without penalizing existing violations will only serve to condone and legitimize grave existing violations.

The traditional rights of fishing communities received some measure of legal recognition in the 1991 CRZ notification. These rights were totally ignored by the MS Swaminathan Committee Report. This is hardly surprising in view of the fact that despite its mandate to include stakeholder participation through due consultation, the MS Swaminathan Committee failed to either inform or consult fish workers organizations, whose interests were therefore totally ignored. We assert that the rights of fishing communities must include:

1.The right to housing in coastal areas/existing fishing villages, settlements or fishing hamlets, with or without having legal title deeds, for housing of fishing communities

2.The right to use coastal lands for occupational purpose (landing, selling, salting, smoking, curing and drying of fish, parking and maintenance work of boats and implements etc.

3.The right to access sea and marine resources.

The zonation proposed by the MS Swaminathan Committee for the consideration of the MoEF is highly problematic and likely to pave the way for the speedy destruction of coastal communities and ecosystems.

The recommendation to expand the core zone to include territorial waters from the shore up to a distance of 12 nautical miles has disastrous implications for the livelihoods of fishing communities. In view of the fact that the MS Swaminathan Committee chose to ignore the traditional rights of fishing communities to sea and marine resources, this recommendation would in effect penalize traditional access rights and lead to the large-scale displacement of fisher people.

The proposal with respect to ecologically sensitive areas adjacent to the core zone is equally shocking. Several commercial activities, such as SEZ development, industrial estates, tourism, mineral mining, man-made coastal protection structures and defence installations have been proposed as permissible activities in ecologically-sensitive areas accessed by fisher people under the new coastal management framework. This recommendation is nothing but a green signal for unbridled commercial activities along the coast. We strongly resist the takeover of coastal lands (within or outside municipal areas) traditionally used by fishing communities.

We are aware that the proposed changes in coastal policy are happening not in a vacuum but in the context of sweeping changes in environment and land acquisition policy in favor of industry, investment and the interests of corporate globalization. Across civil society, there is a united call for the repeal of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification (2006) and the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act of 2006. In the context of diluted EIA procedures and predatory land acquisition policies, coastal land is prime target for commercial exploitation.

We see the current moves to institute new coastal management rules as nothing but an effort to dilute regulation and clear the path for powerful lobbies such as SEZ development, tourism, mining, construction and so on. The fisher peoples movement is determined and resolved to resist all such anti-people and anti-ecological moves.

In view of the above, we, the undersigned, demand:

a)The strict implementation of the original CRZ 1991 notification with immediate effect.

b)That all coastal norm violations under the CRZ 1991 notification be booked and penalized immediately.

c)That no step be undertaken to change coastal policy and norms without a process of due consultation with all stakeholders, including and in particular, fish workers and their democratic organizations.

d)That immediate steps be taken to recognize and uphold the traditional and customary rights of fisher people to housing, coastal lands as well as sea and marine resources.

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Victoria StrongBy:
Transport and infrastructureIn:
Petition target:
Honble Minister, Ministry of Environment and Forest, New Delhi

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