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Why in news?

Skyscrapers constructed at Maradu in Kochi in violation of the CRZ rules, following an order from the Supreme Court. Four illegal apartments, which came up on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, a Ramsar site, were pulled down in two days after evicting its residents.

What happened?

On January 10, on the eve of the demolition of two apartment complexes, the Supreme Court struck another blow for CRZ rules by ordering the demolition of Kapico Resorts, 54 seven-star villas built on an island in Vembanad Lake. The nearly ₹600 crore resorts came up by illegally reclaiming Nediyathuruthu, an island in the lake, which has been classified as a Critically Vulnerable Coastal Area.

The 2019 notification too listed Vembanad as a Critically Vulnerable Coastal Area and clubbed it along with the Sundarbans of West Bengal and the Gulf of Khambhat and the Gulf of Kutch of Gujarat. Section 3.1 of the CRZ rules states that critically vulnerable coastal areas should be managed with the involvement of coastal communities, including fisherfolk who depend on coastal resources for their sustainable livelihood.

More about CRZ

  • The CRZ rules were notified by invoking Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
  • The notification “declared the coastal stretches of the country and the water area up to its territorial water limit, excluding the islands of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep and the marine areas surrounding these islands, as Coastal Regulation Zone.”

Categories under CRZ

CRZ-1 areas are the most environmentally critical. They are further classified as CRZ-1(A) and CRZ-I(B).

  • CRZ-1(A) covers mangroves, corals and coral reefs, sand dunes, biologically active mudflats, inter-tidal zones, and nesting grounds of turtles and birds. It also includes national parks, marine parks, sanctuaries, reserve forests, wildlife habitats and other protected areas, biosphere reserves, salt marshes, sea grass beds and areas or structures of archaeological importance and heritage sites.
  •  CRZ-1(B) category includes the intertidal zone, the area between the Low Tide Line and the High Tide Line

Ecosystem people

  • Trade unions of fishermen and ecologists are now demanding that the traditional coastal dwellers and fishermen be treated as ecosystem people and be allowed to construct houses and other social and livelihood facilities on the shores and waterfront areas.
  • Violations by industry majors, hoteliers and resorts and those by the fishermen should not be treated alike.
  • While dealing with the violations committed by fishermen, a humanitarian approach should be adopted.
  • They should be provided adequate compensation and rehabilitation.
December 2023