The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) is a designated area along the coastline of India that is subject to management and regulation by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986. India’s present Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Rules regulate human and industrial activities close to the shoreline to safeguard delicate ecosystems. The rules prohibit various activities within a specific radius of the coastline, including major construction projects, new business establishments, hazardous material storage or dumping, mining, reclamation, and bunding. The responsibility of developing the Categorisation of Coastal Regulation Zones and enforcing CRZ regulations lies with state governments through their respective Coastal Zone Management Authorities. This write-up will take you through an overview of the present categorisation and the importance of CRZ clearance in the Environment clearance process.
In 1991, the Indian government issued a notification under the EP Act, of 1986 to safeguard and preserve the ecosystems along the country’s coastline. However, this notification lapsed, and in September 2010, the MoEF issued a new notification, which was finally passed as the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011 on January 6, 2011. The CRZ is defined as the coastal area that extends up to 500 meters from the High Tide Line (HTL) and a stage of 100 meters along the banks of creeks, estuaries, backwaters, and rivers that are exposed to tidal variations.
Categorisation of Coastal Regulation Zones
The Categorisation of Coastal Regulation Zones is as follows:
- CRZ-I: Includes environmentally sensitive areas where no construction is allowed except for activities related to nuclear power plants and defence.
- CRZ-II: Comprises urban areas that are heavily developed. Construction activities are only allowed on the landward side.
- CRZ-III: Consists of generally undisturbed areas, mainly rural areas. No new construction is allowed in this zone, only repairs to existing structures. However, the building of dwelling units is permitted on plots located between 200 and 500 meters from the high tide line.
- CRZ-IV: Encompasses the water area between the low tide line and 12 nautical miles seaward. Except for fishing and associated activities, this zone governs all activities involving the sea and tidal water.
Significance of Categorisation of Coastal Regulation Zones
Coastal zones are meeting points of marine and territorial zones and are environmentally vulnerable areas that need protection from pollution and climate change. Industrial growth and infrastructure projects can endanger mangrove ecology, which affects local livelihoods, and therefore, environmentally sensitive areas like mangroves and coral reefs need to be protected.
- Mangroves and coral reefs function as barriers against tsunamis and cyclones; their protection is critical.
- Improving the lifestyles of coastal communities, such as fishing villages, is an important aspect of coastal regulation.
- CRZ laws and regulations aim to balance the development and conservation of the coastal environment by limiting human and industrial activity along the shore.
- They also aim to enhance the livelihoods of coastal populations, create strategies for climate change and high-intensity storms, and ensure the long-term growth of coastal areas.
- The development of coastal communities is one of the pillars of the Sagarmala program, which is a government initiative to develop India’s ports and the maritime sector.
- In 2018, the government stated that adopting CRZ guidelines and following the Categorisation of Coastal Regulation Zones would encourage economic growth while maintaining coastal conservation principles, leading to job creation, improving people’s lives, and contributing value to the country’s economy.
Development of Notifications Leading To CRZ 2011
The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEFCC) first issued a CRZ notification in 1991 to conserve and protect the coastal environment. A separate draft Island Protection Zone Notification has been published to protect Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986. The CRZ 1991 notification was consolidated and modified into the CRZ 2011 notification, which addressed issues raised by the previous notification.
Categorisation of Coastal Regulation Zones CRZ Notifications 2011
The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification of 1991 was updated in 2011 by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change to protect and conserve the coastal environment. The notification has been updated periodically in response to feedback. The 2011 update of the CRZ Notification addressed the issues raised in the 1991 notification and proposed changes accordingly.
o Only certain types of new buildings are allowed in CRZ-I.
o Highway and trans-harbour sea linkages can be built between the HTL and LTL without affecting tidal flow.
o Initiatives involving the Department of Atomic Energy are permitted.
Other activities authorised in the area between the HTL and LTL include:
o Exploration and extraction of natural gas
o Desalination facilities for making salt
o Construction of basic amenities such as schools and roads for traditional inhabitants living within biosphere reserves
o Salt harvesting via solar evaporation of seawater
o Non-hazardous cargo storage within notified ports, such as edible oil and fertilisers.
o CRZ-II applies to areas already established within the municipal limits and up to the shoreline.
o Structures can be built on the landward side of the hazardous line.
o Desalination plants and other activities are allowed under specific conditions.
o Areas that are relatively untouched and not categorised as either CRZ I or CRZ II, including underdeveloped urban and rural areas.
o A No Development Zone of 0-200 meters from HTL is established, where construction is strictly prohibited.
o Only certain activities such as agriculture, forestry, projects by the Department of Atomic Energy, rare mineral mining, salt production, petroleum product regasification, non-conventional energy sources, and specific public facilities may be permitted in this zone.
o In the 200–500-meter zone from HTL, construction of housing for local communities and tourism projects is allowed, along with the activities permitted in the 0-200 meters zone.
o The tidal influenced water body is included in CRZ-IV, which covers the aquatic area from the low tide line to the territorial limits.
o Traditional fishing activities by local communities are allowed without any restrictions.
o Discharging or dumping untreated sewage or solid waste in these areas is strictly prohibited.
o The Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change has issued a draft Island Protection Zone Notification under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986 to protect the islands of Andaman and Nicobar.
Procedure for Clearances of Categorisation of Coastal Regulation Zones
The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) 2011 Notification provides a well-defined procedure for obtaining project clearance. The process involves submission of a Rapid Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report, Risk Management and Disaster Management report, CRZ map indicating the demarcation of High Tide Line (HTL) and Low Tide Line (LTL), and a certificate of no objection from relevant Pollution Control Boards. Once clearance is granted, the project is valid for five years.
Coastal Regulation Zone, 2011 – Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA)
The Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change has identified several areas as Critical Vulnerable Coastal Areas (CVCAs), including Sunderbans, Gulf of Khambhat, Gulf of Kutch, Malvan, Achra-Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, Karwar to Kundapur in Karnataka, Vembanad in Kerala, Bhaitarkanika in Orissa, Coringa in East Godavari, and Krishna in Andhra Pradesh.
The beaches of Goa, including Mandrem, Morjim, Galgiba, and Agonda, have been designated as turtle nesting locations and are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Developmental activities are not permitted in these areas.
Significance of Coastal Regulation Zone 2011
- The 2011 Notification expands the definition of CRZ to include land between HTL and 500m on the landward side and land between HTL and 100m or the width of the creek on the landward side along tidally influenced water bodies connected to the sea.
- The CRZ now includes up to 12 nautical miles of sea and the entire water area of a tidal water body without imposing any restrictions on fishing activities.
- The ‘hazard line’ concept has been introduced to restrict areas at risk of natural disasters such as tsunamis and floods, which the MOEF will demarcate through the Survey of India.
- A new category has been established for areas requiring special consideration, including CRZ areas in Greater Mumbai, Kerala, and Goa and critically vulnerable coastal areas such as the Sunderbans.
- Timelines for obtaining CRZ approval have been established, and post-clearance project monitoring has been introduced as a requirement to submit half-yearly compliance reports.
- Exceptions to the rule prohibiting the establishment of new industries and the expansion of existing industries have been expanded, with specific measures to prevent pollution in coastal areas/coastal waters.
- Implementing Coastal Zone Management Plans, developed by state governments or union territories administration, will govern coastal development activity.
- In the CRZ-II area, redevelopment and reconstruction of old, worn, and unsafe buildings are permitted.
- The 2011 Notification also specifies specific measures to prevent pollution in coastal areas/coastal waters.
The 2011 Categorisation of Coastal Regulation Zones markedly improved from the 1991 version. The MOEF has made a concerted effort to incorporate provisions that benefit fisher-folk in all coastal regions and address the shortcomings of the previous notification. The new guidelines include measures for time-bound clearances, stronger enforcement, and special provisions for specific coastal stretches. Still, getting environmental clearance for a project amidst the tightened regulation in the Coastal regulation zone requires a strategic approach and expertise in the whole clearance process. Guidance of certified consultants can streamline your application for a combined environmental clearance in conformity with all applicable laws.