Current Affairs

Goan Environmentalists raise concerns over Centre’s new CRZ draft rules

The Centre’s new draft rules governing the country”s coastline have evoked a mixed reaction in Goa where environmentalists expressed concern over the norms while shack owners said their business will get a boost.

Early this week, the environment ministry issued the draft Coastal Zone Regulation (CRZ) Notification, 2018.

The notification, which proposes expanding land area for development activities and tourism infrastructure while also simplifying the procedure for CRZ clearances, has been uploaded on the ministry”s website for public comments.

It has classified areas with a population density of more than 2,161 per sq km as per 2011 Census as CRZ-III. In such areas, ‘no development zone (NDZ)’ – measured from the high tide line on the landward side – has been reduced to 50 metres from the existing 200 metres from the HTL.

In areas with a population density of less than 2,161 per sq kms, designated as CRZ-III B, the NDZ continues to be 200 metres from the high tide line (HTL).

However, the NDZ shall not be applicable in areas falling within notified port limits.

“Temporary tourism facilities shall be permissible in the NDZ of CRZ-III areas. Such temporary facilities shall only include shacks, toilets, washrooms, changing rooms, shower panels, walk ways.

“Such facilities shall, however, be permitted only subject to the tourism plan featuring in the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP),” the notification said.

The notification has allowed local communities, including fishermen, to facilitate tourism through ‘home stay’ without changing the plinth area or design of facade of the existing houses.

The rules, if implemented in the current form, are likely to change the way Goa’s 105km long beach front looks.

Shack owners, who account for most of the economic activity in the coastal belt, have said the draft rules would help their business to a certain extent. Environmentalists, however, have expressed concern over the draft.

Antonio Mascarenhas, a former scientist with the CSIR- National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), said the draft rules give a “blanket permission” to shacks (temporary huts on coast which sell certain food items) to come closer to beaches.

The presence of these structures has already started affecting the frontal dunes which would be destroyed further if these draft rules are implemented, he maintained.

“They would be detrimental to the state’s ecology,” he said, adding the draft rules have no scientific validity.

Mascarenhas said the issue of sand dunes has been given the least priority in the notification.

“Special emphasis should be laid on the ecological and geological role as well as functions of the coastal ecosystem, particularly beach dunes. These are more sensitive and more prone to human action,” he said.

President of the Shack Owners’ Welfare Society Cruz Cardoso said the proposed rules will help shacks on private properties, which were earlier facing hindrances.

“Seasonal beach shacks won’t see any impact as they are already on the seafront,” he said.

“Private shack owners had been demanding that the NDZ be reduced from 200 metres to 50 metres (from HTL) and this has been incorporated in the draft notification,” he said.

Cardoso said Goa has 250 private beach shacks and around 360 seasonal ones (which are erected for certain months).

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