Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) – UPSC

In this article, You will read Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) & CRZ Notification 2018 – for UPSC IAS.

With more than 7000 kilometers of coastline, India ranks 20 in the world among the countries with the longest coastline. In order to protect coastal ecology and conserve the coastal environment, the Government of India issued the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) in 1991.

Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ)

  • The coastal areas of seas, bays, creeks, rivers, and backwaters which get influenced by tides up to 500 m from the high tide line (HTL) and the land between the low tide line (LTL) and the high tide line have been declared as coastal regulation zone (CRZ) in 1991.
  • The coastal regulation zones have been declared by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate change under the Environment Protection Act 1986.
  • While the CRZ Rules are made by the Union environment ministry, implementation is to be ensured by state governments through their Coastal Zone Management Authorities.

HTL and LTL

  • High Tide Line: HTL means the line on the land up to which the highest water line reaches during the spring tide.
  • Low Tide Line: Similarly, it means the line on the land up to which the lowest water line reaches during the spring tide.
  • Spring tides: The position of both the sun and the moon in relation to the earth has direct bearing on tide height. When the sun, the moon and the earth are in a straight line, the height of the tide will be higher. These are called spring tides and they occur twice a month, one on full moon period and another during new moon period.

CRZs have been classified into 4 zones for the purpose of regulation:

  • CRZ-I: includes ecologically sensitive areas, where no construction is allowed except activities for atomic power plants, defense.
  • CRZ-II: includes designated urban areas that are substantially built up. Construction activities are allowed on the landward side only.
  • CRZ-III: includes relatively undisturbed areas, mainly rural areas. No new construction of buildings allowed in this zone except repairing of the existing ones. However, constructions of dwelling units in the plot area lying between 200-500m of the high tide line is allowed.
  • CRZ-IV: includes the water area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 nautical miles seaward. Except for fishing and related activities, all actions impugning on the sea and tidal water will be regulated in this zone.

Importance of Regulation of Coastal Zones

  • Protection of ecologically Sensitive Areas like mangroves, coral reefs which act as a shield against tsunami and cyclone
  • Improving the lives of coastal communities like fishing communities
  • Resilient measures for mitigating impacts of Climate Change and high-intensity Cyclones
  • To balance development with conservation of the coastal environment

Timeline of CRZ regulations

  • In India, the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Rules govern human and industrial activity close to the coastline, in order to protect the fragile ecosystems near the sea.
  • They restrict certain kinds of activities — like large constructions, setting up of new industries, storage or disposal of hazardous material, mining, reclamation, and bunding — within a certain distance from the coastline.
  • Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification was first issued in 1991 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 with the mandate to take measures to protect and conserve our coastal environment.
    • Shortcomings of CRZ 1991:
      • Uniform regulations for the entire Indian coastline without taking into account the diversity in terms of biodiversity, demographic patterns, natural resources, etc.
      • Laid no clear procedure for obtaining CRZ clearance.
      • Post clearance monitoring and enforcement mechanism were not laid out.
      • Measures/rules to check pollution emanating from land-based activities were not included.
      • Caused hardships to traditional communities living in ecologically sensitive coastal stretches (fishermen, slum dwellers, etc.).
  • Several amendments were made in the CRZ 1991 notification which was consolidated and issued in the CRZ 2011 notification. The CRZ 2011 notification took into account the issues of CRZ 1991.
    • Objectives of CRZ 2011:
      • To conserve and protect coastal stretches;
      • To ensure livelihood security to the fishing & local communities living in the coastal areas;
      • To promote development in a sustainable manner based on scientific principles, taking into account natural hazards and sea-level rise.
  • In December 2018, the Union cabinet approved the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018.
    • CRZ 2018 notification is based on the recommendation of the Shailesh Nayak committee constituted by the MoEFCC in June 2014 for comprehensive evaluation of provisions under CRZ 2011 notification as demanded by various coastal States/UTs along with other stakeholders.
Shailesh Nayak Committee Report on Coastal Regulation Zone
  • Shailesh Nayak’s committee was constituted in June 2014, and it submitted its report in January 2015.
  • The committee recommended relaxation on the terms set up by the CRZ 2011 notification. The major objective behind the recommendations was to boost tourism, port construction, and real estate.
  • The committee suggested diluting the regulatory powers of the Central Government in the coastal areas. Except for those activities which require environmental clearances all other activity should fall under the ambit of state and local planning bodies.
  • Based on the recommendations of the Shailesh Nayak committee, the suggestions were given by the coastal states and union territories, and the CRZ 2018 notifications were issued.

Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 2018

  • Floor Space Index Norms Eased: In CRZ, 2011 Notification, for CRZ-II (Urban) areas, Floor Space Index (FSI) was frozen as per 1991 Development Control Regulation (DCR) levels. In the CRZ, 2018 Notification, it has been decided to de-freeze the same and permits FSI for construction projects to enable redevelopment of these areas to meet the emerging needs.
  • New Categories for densely populated rural areas: For CRZ-III (Rural) areas, two separate categories have now been stipulated as below:
    • CRZ-III A – These are densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2161 per square kilometer as per the 2011 Census.
      • Such areas will have a No Development Zone (NDZ) of 50 meters from the High Tide Line as against 200 meters from the High Tide Line stipulated in the CRZ Notification, 2011.
    • CRZ-III B – Rural areas with a population density of below 2161 per square kilometer as per the 2011 Census. 
      • Such areas shall continue to have an NDZ of 200 meters from the HTL.
  • Tourism infrastructure in coastal areas: Temporary tourism facilities such as toilet blocks, change rooms, drinking water facilities, etc. have now been permitted in Beaches. However, a minimum distance of 10 m from HTL should be maintained for setting up of such facilities.
  • CRZ Clearances streamlined: Only such projects/activities, which are located in the CRZ-I (Ecologically Sensitive Areas) and CRZ IV (area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 Nautical Miles seaward) will be required to be cleared by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change. For, the CRZ-II (urban) or CRZ III (rural) areas, the CRZ clearance will be considered at the state level by the Coastal Zone Management Authority (CZMA).
  • No Development Zone (NDZ) of 20 meters for Islands: For islands close to the mainland coast and for all Backwater Islands in the mainland, NDZ of 20 m has been stipulated.
    • Ecologically Sensitive Areas have been accorded special importance: Specific guidelines related to their conservation and management plans have been drawn up as a part of the CRZ Notification.
  • Pollution abatement: In order to address pollution in Coastal areas treatment facilities have been made permissible activities in the CRZ-I B area (the area between the Low tide line and High tide line) subject to necessary safeguards.
  • Defense and strategic projects are exempted from regulations.
Benefits
  • Economic Growth: The proposed CRZ Notification, 2018 will lead to enhanced activities in the coastal regions thereby promoting economic growth while also conserving the coastal regions.
  • Boost to Tourism and Employment: It will result in significant employment generation and in better living standards and add value to the economy of India.
  • Boost to Conservation Efforts: The new notification is expected to rejuvenate the coastal areas while reducing their vulnerabilities.
  • Boost to Housing: De-freezing FSI Norms will add to creating additional opportunities for affordable housing. This will benefit not only the housing sector but the people looking for shelter.
Concerns
  • The notification has simplified procedures for environmental clearances and will open up fragile intertidal areas to real estate agents adding up to the coastal degradation.
  • The notification fails to address the concerns raised by the fishermen.
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