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Coastal (Mis) Management Zone

Coastal (Mis) Management Zone

August 2008: India’s coastline, stretching across 5,700 km., supports the livelihoods of millions every single day.  In the past, protection measures in the form of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Rules, 1991 have helped prevent the wanton destruction of our marine breeding nurseries to a certain extent.

Sundarbans – Gertrud and Helmut DenzauHowever, this could be a thing of the past, thanks to the Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) draft notification dated May 1, 2008, issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Until now, the MoEF has failed to demarcate a High Tide Line (HTL) in many places and has had a poor record in implementing the CRZ Notification. Most areas still do not have an approved Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP). How then will it be able to implement and manage the demarcation of the setback line, vulnerability lines, etc. defined in the draft CMZ?


In its current format, the CMZ draft has a number of shortcomings:


1. It is based on the Swaminathan Committee Report, which is flawed and should have been rejected by the MoEF.

2. The notification does not regulate or restrict ‘developmental’ activities nor does it fulfill the objectives of conserving sensitive marine and coastal ecological spaces, of protecting livelihoods and of mitigating human vulnerability to natural and man-made disasters and therefore, cannot be issued under Environment Protection Act (1986).

3. The setback line does not conform to accepted international norms and it will be impossible to demarcate the line as defined in the notification. It becomes relevant only for the settlement of coastal communities but does not bar tourism and recreational facilities. The setback line in the Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) II just acts as a “hazard” or “vulnerability” line.

4. Fishing communities are going to be pushed out of the ‘areas of particular concern’ (CMZ II). This includes panchayats with over 400 persons per sq. km; ports and harbours; notified tourism, mining, heritage and industrial areas; foreshore facilities for SEZs; defence installations and power plants. By putting CRZ III areas that had a ‘no development zone’ (NDZ) under CMZ II without an NDZ, the precautionary principle and livelihood protection measures that were applicable to CRZ III areas have been done away with.

5. There is no protection and conservation of CMZ I areas as they are no longer ‘no development zones’. The draft establishes that various activities will be allowed in these sensitive ecosystems as long as they are recorded in the ‘Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plans’ (ICZMP). The
concept of a 500 m. buffer has also been completely done away with.

6. The present draft states that the CRZ notification, 1991 will apply until the setback lines are drawn and the ICZMPs are approved by the MoEF. In a nutshell, this means the halting of coastal management and regulation activities. In addition, the execution process of the responsibilities allocated to various agencies from village panchayats to the central government is not outlined and the draft also lacks a monitoring mechanism.

7. An amendment of the draft CMZ was formulated on May 9, even before the original draft was made public. The so-called ‘amendment’ to the draft notification allows ‘green field’ airports and the expansion and modernisation of existing airports in coastal areas. Such an inclusion was undoubtedly permitted to sanction airports like the one proposed at Navi Mumbai in Maharashtra, which is in a CRZ I area.

8. Categorisation of coasts has been a dubious process for the last 17 years and is a subject that needs careful execution. The CMZ draft has ambiguous definitions of prohibited and acceptable activities, including a blanket description of economically important areas, and minimises public participation in the conservation process. 


The CMZ notification is essentially a discriminatory document that lacks transparency and participatory planning, discounts environmental protection and permits the entry of new stakeholders while ignoring the claims of traditional dwellers in the area.


We urge Sanctuary readers to write to the MoEF urging them to withdraw the CMZ draft notification and revert back to the CRZ notification of 1991.


1. Strengthen protection and implementation in the CRZ notification dated February 19, 1991.

2. Extend the CRZ notification, 1991 to include 12 nautical miles, and also extend the area on the landward side to cover the area within the jurisdiction of the concerned local authority.

3. Integrate town planning with Coastal Zone Management Plans.

4. Protect the rights of traditional fisherfolk in CRZ I, CRZ II and CRZ IV areas.

5. Extend the CRZ line to the setback line or 500 m., whichever is more.

6. Ensure transparency and set a time limit for taking action against violations.

7. Ensure that no SEZ or airport comes up within 500 m. of the HTL or the setback line, whichever is more.


The Secretary,
Ministry of Environment and Forests,
C.G.O Complex, Lodhi Road,
New Delhi – 110003. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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