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What are CRZ rules?

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

What are CRZ rules?

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: CRZ Regulations- key features and significance.

Context: SC backs order to demolish 59 villas on Kerala island for violating CRZ norms.

The villas are constructed in the Vembanad backwaters — a Ramsar site. The wetland is of international importance and protected by the Ramsar Convention.

What are CRZ norms?

In India, the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Rules govern human and industrial activity close to the coastline, in order to protect the fragile ecosystems near the sea. They restrict certain kinds of activities — like large constructions, setting up of new industries, storage or disposal of hazardous material, mining, reclamation and bunding — within a certain distance from the coastline.

Background:

After the passing of the Environment Protection Act in 1986, CRZ Rules were first framed in 1991. After these were found to be restrictive, the Centre notified new Rules in 2011, which also included exemptions for the construction of the Navi Mumbai airport and for projects of the Department of Atomic Energy.

In 2018, fresh Rules were issued, which aimed to remove certain restrictions on building, streamlined the clearance process, and aimed to encourage tourism in coastal areas.

What is the regulation zone?

In all Rules, the regulation zone has been defined as the area up to 500 m from the high-tide line.

What are the restrictions?

The restrictions depend on criteria such as the population of the area, the ecological sensitivity, the distance from the shore, and whether the area had been designated as a natural park or wildlife zone.

The latest Rules have a no-development zone of 20 m for all islands close to the mainland coast, and for all backwater islands in the mainland.

For the so-called CRZ-III (Rural) areas, two separate categories have been stipulated.

  1. In the densely populated rural areas (CRZ-IIIA) with a population density of 2,161 per sq km as per the 2011 Census, the no-development zone is 50 m from the high-tide level, as against the 200 m stipulated earlier.
  2. CRZ-IIIB category (rural areas with population density below 2,161 per sq km) areas continue to have a no-development zone extending up to 200 m from the high-tide line.

Implementation:

While the CRZ Rules are made by the Union environment ministry, implementation is to be ensured by state governments through their Coastal Zone Management Authorities.

Sources: Indian Express.