Tamil Nadu objects to new coastal laws draft


Chennai : The central government’s attempt to replace the Coastal Regulation Zone laws, 1991 with a set of new laws has come up against a slew of objections from the Tamil Nadu government. The state has a 1,076 km long coastline and almost 800,000 people dependent on marine fishery.

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N. Sundaradevan, principal secretary in the Tamil Nadu government, in a letter to the secretary, union ministry of environment and forests, stated: “The Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Notification 2008, among other things, is likely to affect the life and livelihood of local coastal communities, especially fishermen.”

In the July 8 letter, accessed by some NGOs this Thursday, the state government lists many objections to the draft CZM notification, starting with the definition of “coastal zone”.

It has sought clarification on “whether offshore or onshore mining is permitted in CZM-II areas”, on greenfield airports on the coast and defence zones, and demanded proper notification for all such areas along the coast.

It has sought detailed clarification of what is meant by “mariculture” and “traditional aquaculture”, has asked for a list of “activities which do not require CZM clearance” and what is meant by “essential development” as written in the draft.

The state has asked if “beyond the vulnerable area” means “beyond the set back line or not”. According to the new law, the entire coastline will be demarcated by a set back line (SBL) – which will depend on where the settlement ends and the beach begins. This varies from point to point, across coastal towns and villages.

According to the draft, in CZM II areas, all “future developments on the landward side of the SBL should take place as per local town and country planning rules as it existed in May 2008”.

The letter said: “This provision does not take into consideration the fact that existing local town and country planning rules get outdated over a period of time and, therefore, future development cannot keep pace with the requirements of changing time, which to say the least is too restrictive for inclusive growth of society.”

Tamil Nadu has contested the availability of high definition “satellite data surveys with contour intervals of 0.5 metre and 1 metre”, for India’s 7,527 km coastline, as assumed in the draft.

It has suggested a pilot study for demarcation in each state, beginning with Cuddalore and Nagapattinam coast, where substantial work on this has been done.

Beside demanding the draft in Tamil and 90 days to respond to it after that, the state government has sought replacement of regulation with “restriction” in a portion of the draft that says “there shall be no regulation with regard to fishing and fishery related activities”.