Govt of India, coastal state govts, hand-in-glove with corporates, are out to loot coastal natural resources

By Pradip Chatterjee*

The Government of India's Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has, on 18th April 2018, notified a Draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 2018 and has asked for comments from stakeholders within 60 days of its publication. MoEFCC has notified the new draft CRZ Notification when:
  1.  Thousands of violations of CRZ 1991 and CRZ 2011 Notifications have already destroyed large parts of the coast and its natural resources;
  2. The Central and State Governments have miserably failed in their duty to book the violators, let alone prevent those;
  3. The Governments of coastal states have repeatedly failed in preparing Coastal Zone Management Plans and appropriate Coastal Zone Maps; 
  4. The MoEFCC and concerned State Governments have been put under Judicial monitoring by the apex Green Tribunal of the country to prepare and submit CZMPs and Maps within July 2018.
The Government of India along with the coastal state Governments are hand-in-glove with the corporate and business houses who are out to loot the coastal natural resources. In a travesty of environmental governance the Central and State Governments keep their eyes shut to the illegal activities on the coastal land and waters by the corporate and business houses. Without taking any measure against the violators of the law they are shamelessly changing the law itself.
Not only this. The MoEFCC is blatantly misusing the power conferred on it by the law of the country. The Environment Protection Act of 1986, under its section 3, states that:
"Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government, shall have the power to take all such measures that it deems to be necessary or expedient for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing, controlling and abating environmental pollution".
The MoEFCC has been shamelessly misusing the power given to it for upkeep and betterment of the environment, to open up the coast and its natural resources to further plunder by watering down and/or changing the restrictions put in place by CRZ Notification. MoEFCC amended the CRZ 1991 Notification no less than 25 times, most of which were aimed at relaxing the restrictions on harmful constructions and activities.
The story of CRZ 2011 Notification has been no different. And now MoEFCC under the Draft CRZ 2018 Notification is proposing to cut down the no development zone from 200 meters to 50 meters on large stretches of the coast. They are proposing to cut down the 100 meter CRZ area in the case of rivers, creeks and backwaters etc. from 100 meters to 50 meters. They are even proposing to open up eco-sensitive CRZ-I areas like mangroves to tourism. And all these are being done in exercise of the power conferred to the Government to protect and better the environment. This is perjury.
The Dakshinbanga Matsyajibi Forum (DMF) calls upon all fish workers' collectives, environmental organisations and concerned citizens of the country to rise up in protest. Our country's natural resources are being devastated. The livelihood of millions of fisher people is facing destruction. The Government, supposed to be the custodian of the country's natural resources, is selling them off to the corporate looters.
Rise up and protest.
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*With Dakshinbanga Matsyajibi Forum

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