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An overview of the Swaminathan committee report on the CRZ notification

Coastal Regulation ZoneMinistry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) set up an Expert Committee in 2004 which was headed by Prof. M.S. Swaminathan. The mandate of the committee was to research and provide a detailed review of the CRZ Notification, the status of its implementation, gaps if any, and mitigation mechanisms to tweak the coastal zone management in India.

CRZ Notification-

The history of environmental movement began in the 80’s when buoyed by the increase in pollution levels, governments’ world over started taking measures to curb environmental pollution. The MoEF in 1983 presented a guideline for maintaining and safeguarding the beaches in India. The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notificaton came in 1991 and a total of 19 amendments took place.

CRZ Notification of 1991 in brief-

Applicability  Indian coast in its complete entirety, which means that all mainland coast along with Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands falls under its purview.
What are the Regulations? Activities within 500 m from High Tide Line and area between High Tide and Low tide Line. Prohibits certain class of activities for protection of coastal biodiversity.
Division of Coastal Zones of country The coastal area of India is divided into CRZ- I, II, III and IV
CRZ 1 This group includes ecologically sensitive areas such as marine parks, national parks, sanctuaries, mangrove areas, wildlife habitats, heritage areas, historically important areas etc. and areas between Low Tide Line and High Tide Line.
CRZ 2 Areas already developed close to or up to the shoreline.
CRZ 3 Largely undisturbed and those areas which do not fall under either CRZ 1 or 2
CRZ 4 Coastal areas of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep unless already included under CRZ-I, CRZ-II or CRZ-III

In 1998, the MoEF because of the Supreme Court’s directives constituted State Coastal Zone Management Authorities (CZMAs) and a National Coastal Zone Management Authority to ensure implementation of the notification. The coastal states were expected to prepare plans for implementation but this did not happen. Expectedly, CRZ notification could not be implemented fully.


It suggested several institutional changes and recommended that a separate division in the MoEF be created for coastal management issues.  A National Board for Sustainable Coastal Zone Management be instituted along with National and State Coastal Zone Management Authorities.

Setting up of a National Institute for Sustainable Coastal Zone Management with 2 regional centres for the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep islands.

A new three-tier structure similar to the current CZMAs but with the National Board for Sustainable Coastal Zone Management at the top.

A departure from mere ‘regulation’ to management and specifically ‘integrated management’. Replacingthe categories of ‘Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZ-I to IV) ’ with ‘Coastal Management Zones’ (CMZ

I to IV).

Zone demarcation to be based on ecological importance, coastal vulnerability, and socio-cultural concerns. Creating a new institutional structure specifically geared for coastal management. Setting up of aNational Institute for Sustainable Coastal Zone Management.
Need for conservation of the fragile ecosystems of these coastal areas so as to derive sustainableservices and benefits from them. Participation of local communities in decision making of the coast and itsResources. Adopting sound scientific and ecological principles for coastal zone managementGuided by precautionary principle and polluter pays principle. Recommendations of earlier review committees to be considered. The committee stated thatseveral problems with the CRZ are because of the fact that the MoEF chose

convenient recommendations from earlier reviews.

Encouragement of local self regulations. Spelling out the jurisdiction of various government agencies.  EIA and social impact assessments must be carried out for coastal development activity. Numerous issues such as for example property rights, equity, benefit sharing etc have not been mentioned  in  CRZ and need to be considered in any new document.
Sensitive areas and hotspots to be located urgently and GIS based site maps created that could help in the development of site-specific plans. Not base on High Tide Lines as they are difficult to demarcate. Livelihood strategies so local communities do not get compromised. Sand mining should be banned.
Tourism promotion. Strict penal provisions to ensure implementation. Setting up of National and State Coastal Zone Management Authorities A new three-tier structure but with the National Board for Sustainable Coastal Zone Management at the top.

References and further reading-

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