Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011: Not the end of the road - An EPW paper

This article shows how the recent Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 2011 fails to meet the demands of the fishing community and environmentalist groups.

 It falls short of offering greater protection to the coastal ecosystem, recognising the inalienable right of fisherfolk to their habitats and providing them with representation in decision-making. However, the prior consultations on the notification have led to a higher level of awareness about coastal issues among the fishing communities, government officials and the general public, all auguring well for its enforcement.  

The study makes the following conclusions -

  • The run-up to the CRZ Notification 2011 was characterised by unprecedented consultations. This has yielded some benefits as there is undoubtedly today a higher level of awareness about coastal issues in general and the CRZ regime in particular, including among coastal fishing communities, government officials and the general public. This could augur well for the implementation and enforcement of the 2011 notification, given that it was factors such as the lack of political will as well as of public awareness and pressure for enforcement that were the bane of the 1991 notification. 
  • Provisions to promote transparency that are part of the 2011 notification could foster the process of public engagement.
  • However, it is equally the case that fishing communities and environmental groups have been left with a sense of disillusionment, given that despite the many consultations, several of their concerns, articulated time and again, have been ignored in the final notification.  
  • For fishing community groups the campaign around the CRZ notification has been important in a context where they find themselves increasingly marginalised by the massive development on the coast. Through mass protests and coordinated action across all coastal states they have succeeded in putting political pressure on their elected representatives, several of whom have come out in support of their cause.
  • The right of the fishing communities to live and work on the coast has received wide recognition and support at the political level. Another important gain has been the alliance that has developed between the fishworkers and environmental groups, fallout of the common campaign on the CRZ, lending more weight to their collective demands. This is an alliance that could prove even more useful and effective in the coming period.

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