The coastal zone is a scarce, vulnerable and dynamic territory, where natural, economic, demographic, social and environmental aspects come together. As R. Sudarshana et al., express it, in their book titled, Subtle Issues in Coastal Management, published by Indian Institute of Remote Sensing in 2000, the coastal zone has always been by far the most exploited geographical unit on earth. A concern thus arose as to how much area within the coastal system should be left as ‘open space’ to avoid risks – due to sea level rise, coastal populations, loss of habitats, loss of ecologically sensitive areas, as well as to ensure preservation of natural beauty. A need was felt to designate these open spaces, through a ‘legal framework’ to facilitate adjustments to the changing conditions of the coastal systems and to ensure equity of resource distribution. The safe distance necessitated providing a defined designated and earmarked zone in which human interference was prohibited. This was the beach setback region, where any developmental activity would be prohibited.
On 15 February 1991, India created history by the promulgation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification for conserving the coastal belt of India, and on 20 February 1991, the said notification came into force with a mandate to preserve and conserve all coastal belts; applicable to all coastal states across the country. The said notification issued directives and maintained a legal framework towards classification and regulation of all development and construction activities within 500 m from the high tide line (HTL) on the landward side of the seas and 100 m from rivers, creeks, and backwaters or the width of the river whichever is less. However, the CRZ notification did not impose a total ban on all developmental works; it had provisions for undertaking certain activities as provided in the said notification. The classification scheme adopted four categories for implementation of the said regulation – CRZ-I, CRZ-II, CRZ-III and CRZ-IV (islands). Subsequently several amendments were made to the CRZ 1991 due to its inherent limitations and the impediments in its implementation.
In September 2010, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) brought out a new draft CRZ, which after much deliberations was finally passed as the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011 on 6 January 2011. The main change in this notification is the expansion of the scope of the regulation to include the territorial waters as a protected zone. It has also introduced the concept of a hazard line, recognising the fact that the area can be prone to natural disasters such as tsunamis. Classification into four zones – CRZ I to CRZ IV has been retained, but with changes. The CRZ IV of the 1991 notification, which covered the coastal stretches of the islands of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep, has been delinked in the 2011 Regulation. These areas have been declared as the Island Protection Zone (IPZ), through the Island Coastal Regulation Zone (ICRZ). Under the 2011 Regulation, obtaining of CRZ clearances has been made time bound, the list of prohibited activities has been expanded and the concept of Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMPs) has been introduced. Special provisions have been built-in to benefit the fisher folk community in all the coastal areas.
Features of CRZ 2011
The 2011 Regulation declares parts of the coastal area as CRZ and imposes with effect from the date of the notification, restrictions on the setting up and expansion of industries, operations or processes in the area (Fig. 1). Included under the regulation are:
■ The land area from HTL to 500 m on the landward side along the sea front,
■ The land area between HTL to 100 m or width of the creek whichever is less on the landward side along the tidal influenced water bodies that are connected to the sea. The distance up to which development along such tidal influenced water bodies will be regulated is to be governed by the distance up to which the tidal effects are experienced. The CZMPs are to clearly identify and demarcate these areas accordingly,
■ The land area falling between the hazard line and 500 m from HTL on the landward side, in case of seafront; and between the hazard line and 100 m line in case of tidal influenced water body. The word ‘hazard line’ denotes the line demarcated by MoEF through the Survey of India (SoI) taking into account tides, waves, sea level rise and shoreline changes,
■ The land area between HTL and low tide line (LTL) termed as the intertidal zone,
■ The water and the bed area between the LTL to the territorial water limit (12 nautical miles) in case of sea, and,
■ The water and the bed area between LTL at the bank to the LTL on the opposite side of the bank, of tidal influenced water bodies.
For the purpose of the notification, HTL means the line on the land up to which the highest water line reaches during the spring tide. It is to be demarcated uniformly in all parts of the country by the demarcating authority(s) so authorised by the MoEF in accordance with the guidelines issued and within one year from the date of issue of the notification.
Categorisation and classification of CRZ 2011
CRZ-I: Includes areas that are ecologically sensitive; features, which play a role in maintaining the integrity of the coast like mangroves, corals, sand dunes, national parks, sanctuaries, salt marshes turtle nesting grounds, sea grass beds, heritage and historical sites; and the area between LTL and HTL. This category has been designated as the No Development Zone (NDZ) and no new construction activities are to be permitted here, except those notified in the CRZ 2011 notification.
CRZ-II: Includes the areas that have already been developed up to or close to the shoreline, within the existing municipal limits or in other existing legally designated urban areas, which are substantially built-up and have been provided with drainage and approach roads and other infrastructural facilities, such as water supply and sewerage mains. Buildings are to be permitted only on the landward side of the existing road, or on the landward side of existing authorised structures (as on 19 February 1991) and will be subject to the existing local town and country planning regulations.
CRZ-III: Includes areas that are relatively undisturbed and those that do not belong to either CRZ-I or CRZ-II. Falling under this category are the coastal zone in the rural areas (developed and undeveloped) and areas within municipal limits or in other legally designated urban areas, which are not substantially built up. Even as in CRZ-II the area up to 200 m from HTL on the landward side in case of seafront and 100 m along tidal influenced water bodies or width of the creek whichever is less will be earmarked as NDZ. No construction is to be permitted within the NDZ except for repairs or reconstruction of existing authorised structure not exceeding existing floor space index (FSI), existing plinth area, existing density and for permissible activities under the notification. A notable exception to the NDZ are areas falling within notified port limits.
CRZ-IV: Includes the water area from the LTL to 12 nautical miles on the seaward side and shall include the water area of the tidal influenced water body from the mouth of the water body at the sea up to the influence of tide. No untreated sewage, effluents, ballast water, ship washes, fly ash or solid waste from all activities including aquaculture operations are to be let off or dumped in this area. A comprehensive plan for treatment of sewage generated from the coastal towns and cities is to be formulated within a period of one year in consultation with stakeholders and implemented. Pollution from oil and gas exploration and drilling, mining, boat house and shipping is to be regulated. No restriction is to be placed on traditional fishing and allied activities undertaken by local communities.
Some areas in this zone require special consideration for the purpose of protecting the critical coastal environment and to address the difficulties faced by local communities, these include:
■ The CRZ falling within municipal limits of Greater Mumbai – to provide a safe and decent dwelling to the slum dwellers, the State Government may implement slum redevelopment and slum rehabilitation schemes,
■ The CRZ areas of Kerala including the backwaters and backwater islands,
■ The CRZ areas of Goa, and,
■ Critically vulnerable coastal areas (CVCA) such as the Sunderban of West Bengal and other ecologically sensitive areas identified under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and managed with the involvement of coastal communities including fisher folk.
Implementation and enforcement of the CRZ Notification 2011: The powers either original or delegated are available under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 with the MoEF, State Government or the Union Territory Administration, the National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA) and State Coastal Zone Management Authorities (SCZMAs), for the purpose of implementation and enforcement of the provisions of the CRZ 2011 notification, and its compliance as per the conditions stipulated there under.