‘Draft CRZ notification dangerous for Kerala, coastal folk’

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Thiruvananthapuram, June 4 (IANS) The most recent draft notification by the Union Environment and Forests Ministry on the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) where the no-development zone (NDZ) for the new III-A category will be 50 metres instead of 200 metres will be detrimental to Kerala, says experts from the state.

The group of experts led by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board’s former chairman Oommen V. Oommen has written to the Union Environment Ministry to take a re-look into it.

Oommen pointed out that the average density of population in Kerala is 859 per square km while in the coastal regions, its as high as 2,161 per square km and if the 2011 regulation is changed, it will largely harm Kerala’s interests.

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He said that the draft notification proposes to classify the existing CRZ-III into CRZ-III A and III B.

“Areas with population density of less than 2,161 per sq km will now be under CRZ-III A. The NDZ for III A will be 50 metres, instead of 200 metres. This dilution will help builders as more development will now be allowed. The government is set to overhaul the coastal zone regulation rules and the proposed changes will promote commercialisation in the most protected zones, instead of the mandated conservation. This move will be disastrous to the fragile coastal environment,” he warned.

Another expert K.P. Laladhas, who headed the team that prepared Kerala’s objection to the Kasturirangan report in 2016, pointed out that the lastest Draft Notification of 2018 will only help to further derail the stated objectives of CRZ Notification for conservation of the coast and preservation of the coastal ecosystems.

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“The draft notifies the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) as the sole authority for demarcation of high tide line (HTL). Making a single agency responsible for this vital aspect for the whole country can lead to chaos and corruption as there is no provision for cross checks.

“HTL must be a line demarcated using the shoreline data over a longer period, normally a 20 year period. Again from the legal point, the HTL must be demarcated unambiguously with control points, traceable on the ground and understandable even to the local dwellers,” he said.

Another expert N.P.Kurien, a former director of the National Centre for Earth Science Studies, pointed out that the need of the hour is to see that there should be detailed discussion by taking the coastal population into confidence.

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“Permitting construction of dwelling units up to 50 metres from the HTL even for the local population can be construed as another way of exposing them to the fury of coastal hazards,” he said.

–IANS

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