Friday, May 25, 2012

Critical Analysis of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011

This article is written by Sushant Shetty.

For the purpose of protecting coastal resources from depletion and degradation and to manage developmental activities along the coastline, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India, on February 19, 1991, issued the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification in 1991 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. This notification declared the coastal stretches of seas, bays, estuaries, creeks, rivers and backwaters influenced by tidal action upto 500 metres from the ‘High Tide Line’ (“HTL”) and land between ‘Low Tide Line’ (“LTL”) and the HTL as the Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZs). Restrictions were imposed on developmental activities and the notification would accordingly regulate the use of land within 500 meters of the coast & 100 meters along the tidal-influenced water bodies. (The notification can be viewed here.)

There have been about 25 amendments to this notification from 1991 till 2009, as several state governments and other stakeholders expressed difficulties in implementing its provisions, some of which have been based on the directions of the Supreme Court. Eventually this notification was
allowed to lapse and the Ministry brought out a fresh notification in September 2010, which after much discussions and deliberations, was finally passed as Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011 on January 6, 2011. (Image taken from here.)

Following are the key provisions that will have a bearing on the development potential of the restricted and conserved CRZ:

1.         It widens the definition of CRZ to include the land area from HTL to 500 m on the landward side, as well as the land area between HTL to 100 m or width of the creek, whichever is less, on the landward side along tidal influenced water bodies connected to the sea. The CRZ also includes, for the first time, water area up to 12 nautical miles in the sea and the entire water area of a tidal water body such as creek, river, estuary without imposing any restrictions of fishing activities. Thus, the main change in the scope of regulation has been to expand the CRZ to include territorial waters as a protected zone to address pollution of the sea.

2.         The dwelling units of the traditional coastal communities including fisherfolk, tribals as were permissible under the provisions of the CRZ notification, 1991, but which have not obtained formal approval from concerned authorities under the aforesaid notification shall be considered by the respective Union Territory Coastal Zone Management Authorities (CZMAs) and the dwelling units shall be regularized subject to the following condition, namely-

(i)         these are not used for any commercial activity.
(ii)        these are not sold or transferred to non-traditional coastal community.

3.         The concept of classification of CRZ into four zones has continued in the 2011 notification with the following delineation:

4.         The concept of a ‘hazard line’ has been included. While the notification merely states that the hazard line will be demarcated by the MoEF through the Survey of India, by taking into account tides, waves, sea level rise and shoreline changes, this concept owes its introduction to the realisation of natural disasters such as tsunami and floods that may take place in this zone.

(a)        CRZ - I 

(i)         The area that are ecologically sensitive and the geomorphologic features which play a role in maintaining the integrity of the coast like mangroves (in case mangrove area is more than 1000 sq mts, a buffer of 50 mts. along the mangroves shall be provided), coral reefs, sand dunes, salt marshes, turtle nesting ground etc.

(ii)        The area between LTL and HTL.

(b)        CRZ – II

The areas that have been developed upto, or even close to, the shoreline.
The expression “developed area” is referred to as that area within the existing municipal limits or in other existing legally designated urban areas which ar e substantially built-up and has been provided with drainage and approach roads and other infrastructural facilities, such as water supply and sewerage mains;

(c)        CRZ - III
Areas that are relatively undisturbed and those do not belong to either CRZ-I or II which include coastal zone in the rural areas (developed and undeveloped) and also areas within municipal limits or in other legally designated urban areas, which are not substantially built up.

(d)       CRZ - IV 

Water area from LTL to 12 nautical miles on seaward side and water areas of tidal influenced water bodies from the mouth of the water body at the sea upto the influence of tide measured as 5 ppt during the driest season of the year CRZ IV has been changed from the 1991 notification, which covered coastal stretches in the islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshwadeep. The MoEF has issued a separate notification titled Island Protection Zone 2011 in relation to these areas.

5.         A new category called areas requiring special consideration has been created which consists of

(i)         CRZ areas of Greater Mumbai, Kerala and Goa , and
(ii)        Critically vulnerable coastal areas such as Sunderbans.

6.         Clearances for obtaining CRZ approval have been made time-bound. Further, for the first time, post-clearance monitoring of projects has been introduced in the form of the requirement to submit half-yearly compliance reports, which are to be displayed on the Ministry’s website.

7.         While in the CRZ 1991 notification, the exceptions, with respect to the list of prohibited activities, was limited to those activities which required access to the water front, four other exceptions have been now incorporated which include:

(i)              Projects of Department of Atomic Energy;

(ii)       Facilities for generating non-conventional energy sources and desalination plans, except for CRZ-I zones on a case-by-case basis after doing an impact assessment study;

(iii)           Development of greenfield airport permitted only at Navi Mumbai; and

(iv)         Reconstruction, repair works of dwelling units of local communities including fishers in accordance with local town and country planning regulations.

8.         The 2011 notification also provides a list of permissible and regulated activities within CRZ some of which inter alia include:

A.        Activities in CRZ-II

(a)        Buildings permitted on the landward side of the existing and proposed roads or existing authorized structures shall be subject to the existing local town and country planning regulations including the ‘existing’ norms of Floor Space Index or Floor Area Ratio viz. as on February 19, 1991:
Provided that no permission for construction of buildings shall be given on landward side of any new roads which are constructed on the seaward side of an existing road:

(b)        Reconstruction of authorized building to be permitted subject to the existing Floor Space Index or Floor Area Ratio Norms and without change in present use;

(c)        In CRZ-II, for projects more than 20,000 sq. m. built-up area, approval as per Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)Notification, 2006 is required and for those less than 20,000 sq. m. approval of State &Union Territory planning authorities & prior recommendation by its CZMA is required.

(d)       Under the 1991 notification it was provided that activities with investment of Rs. 5 crore or more would require environmental clearance from the MoEF but this has now been removed.

B.        Activities in CRZ-III

(a)        Area upto 200mts from HTL on the landward side in case of seafront and 100 mts along tidal influenced water bodies or width of the creek whichever is less is to be earmarked as “No Development Zone (“NDZ”) All open spaces like parks, playgrounds, gardens etc. in CRZ–II shall be regarded as NDZ. The following areas in Thane district viz. Bhawar, Tarapore, Mangalpada, Dhanapada, Bordi and Cchinchwar are classified as NDZ. The limit of 100 mts can be decreased due to in between road or can be increased due to mangroves. i.e. 50 mts beyond that limit,-

(i)         the NDZ shall not be applicable in such area falling within any notified port limits;

Fishing activities, fisher folk in boat on water coastal regulation zone notification provisions
(ii)        No construction shall be permitted within NDZ except for repairs or reconstruction of existing authorized structure not exceeding existing Floor Space Index, existing plinth area and existing density and for permissible activities under the notification including facilities essential for activities. Construction/reconstruction of dwelling units of traditional coastal communities including fisherfolk may be permitted between 100 and 200 mts from the HTL along the seafront in accordance with a comprehensive plan prepared by the State Government or the Union territory. It has included Alibaug and other coastal areas in its ambit. (Image taken from here)
However, the development of Navi Mumbai airport is permitted in the NDZ.

 (b)        Area between 200mts to 500mts -
The following activities shall be permissible in the above areas;

(i)         development of vacant plot in designated areas for construction of hotels or beach resorts for tourists or visitors subject to the conditions as specified in the guidelines specified in this notification;

(ii)        construction or reconstruction of dwelling units so long it is within the ambit of traditional rights and customary uses such as existing fishing villages and goathans.

Building permission for such construction or reconstruction will be subject to local town and country planning rules with overall height of construction not exceeding 9mts with two floors (ground + one floor);

(iii)       Construction of public rain shelters, community toilets, water supply drainage, sewerage, roads and bridges by CZMA who may also permit construction of schools and dispensaries for local inhabitants of the area for those panchayats, the major part of which falls within CRZ if no other area is available for construction of such facilities;

(iv)       reconstruction or alteration of existing authorised building subject to (ii) and (iii) above.

C.        In CRZ-I areas falling within municipal limits of Greater Mumbai, construction of roads, approach and missing link roads approved in the Developmental Plan would be permitted provided

(a)        the roads are constructed on stilts and the free flow of tidal water or growth of mangroves is not affected. 

(b)        5 times the number of mangroves destroyed during construction shall be replanted.

9.       Another important aspect is the introduction of the Coastal Zone Management Plans, which will regulate coastal development activity and which are to be formulated by the State Governments or the administration of Union Territories .

10.      Hotels in CRZ – III: Development of vacant plot in designated areas for construction of hotels or beach resorts for tourists or visitors is permitted subject to specified conditions and prior approval of MoEF.

11.      Streamlined and time-bound approval process : Unlike CRZ 1991 notification, which did not lay down the process for obtaining CRZ clearance, a specific procedure has been provided in the 2011 notification for obtaining clearances. Approval is stipulated to be received within 120 days from the date application is made by the project authorities to the relevant authority. The 2011 notification also provides for an enforcement mechanism which was missing earlier.

12.       Developmental activities in the CRZ area of the Greater Mumbai region are given special consideration in the 2011 CRZ notification because of the underlying environmental issues relating to degradation of mangroves, pollution of creeks and coastal waters, discharge of untreated effluents and disposal of solid waste and the need to provide decent housing to the poor section of society and lack of suitable alternatives in the inter connected islands of Greater Mumbai.

The following are the implications of the new notification for Greater Mumbai:

A.        Under the new notification, identified conventional solid waste sites shall be relocated outside the CRZ area.

B.        In CRZ-II areas, development/redevelopment shall continue to be undertaken according to Town and Country Planning Regulations as on 19th February 1991, unless specified otherwise.

Shortcomings of the CRZ Notification 2011:

1.         Although the no-development zone of 200 metres from the HTL is reduced to 100 metres, the pro­vision has been made applicable to “traditional coastal communities, including fisher-folk”, thereby giving the chance for increased construction on the coast and higher pressure on coastal resources.

2.         Disallowing Special Economic Zone (“SEZ”) projects in the CRZ.

3.         There are no restrictions for expansion of housing for rural communities in CRZ III.
(Image taken from here.)

This article is written by Sushant Shetty.

Sushant Shetty Advocate Lawpoint licensed Maharashtra goa
 Sushant Shetty
Sushant Shetty is a young Advocate, licensed to practice in the state of Maharashtra and Goa. He graduated from the Government Law College, and is currently working with one of Mumbai’s leading boutique Real Estate Law firms. His practice focuses primarily on Real Estate and Commercial Laws.

Keywords: coastal zone management of india and crz of 1991

1 comment:

  1. Dear Adv Sushant.
    I am a lady who put a 2000 sqft house at Maravanthuruthu ny vembanad Kerala. I applied to the local Panchayat in 2004 got their sanction and completed the house in 2006. Got a house no and is paying taxes. After all these years I now get a demolition notice from the secreatary of the same Panchayat citing CRZ. They had to tellme when I applied right. I am at a loss. Can u give me some tips?