Updated on: Thursday, October 28, 2021, 02:10 AM IST

Mumbai and Coastal Regulations: Conservation vs development

Fishing communities are in double danger from conservation and development, say experts
Fishing boats carrying black flags reading ‘save our fishermen’ were launched in the protest | Photo: PTI

Fishing boats carrying black flags reading ‘save our fishermen’ were launched in the protest | Photo: PTI


The Indian coastline faces unprecedented pressures due to industrial and urban development, pointed out former Director of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) Dr Rakesh Kumar. Kumar was talking at a virtual panel discussion on the approval of the new Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change that was hosted by Mumbai First in association with Eco Support on Wednesday.

The panel discussion titled “Mumbai & Coastal Regulations: A Battle of Decades" outlined various important points for the strategies towards the application of CRZ 2021 notification. The panel also discussed the trends which affect business investment and the environment

During the panel discussion, Kumar presented a report prepared in 2009 by the MS Swaminathan committee. He further explained how the Indian coast is facing unprecedented pressures due to industrial and urban development. He pointed out that consequently, there is climate change-related devastation because of growing intensities of cyclonic storms and the eventual rise in sea levels.

Kumar said, “Fishing communities are in double danger as well from conservative on one hand and development on the other, although they are the biggest and strongest stakeholders. Future policies for coastal area management must reserve these trends. Check violations to CRZ through improved space technology,” he reiterated

Senior Principal Scientist at CSIR-NIO, Dr V S Naidu, who has been dealing with environmental impact assessment issues in coastal areas for 25 years, discussed the situation of the three water bodies that surround Mumbai and explained the classification of Coastal Regulation Zone notifications.

Independent journalist, columnist, writer, and teacher, Smruti Koppikar put forth her remarks on the notification and the perception of mass media. Koppikar said, “In the popular news media, environment and development are often treated as binaries.”

"In my view Mumbai & Coastal Regulations: A Battle of Decades is a battle for 5-6 decades or probably a little more. The latest IPCC report based on NASA satellite and data listed 12 Indian cities on the threat of submergence due to sea rise where Mumbai tops the list. We are all familiar with stories of the past 50 years in Mumbai. But are we ready for the next 50 years of submerges in the city of what levels and what kind? The question is: Are we still going to look at development and environment in a binary fashion?” she added.

Managing Director of Neelkanth Group, Mukesh Patel said that as a developer they want to be part of solutions, not the problems. “It is good that the notification has finally seen the day of light. Anything which is uncertain really creates a lot of problems. Now it is very clear what is available and what is not and its impact on development," Patel said.

Speaking on the legal perspective of the notification, former joint director, legal of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) Dattatraye Devale said, "The battle of Mumbai and Coastal Regulations started with the amalgamation of uniting seven islands. Then further development of Backbay reclamation and Bandra reclamation and encroachment in the coastal areas. From 1991-2008 CRZ notification 1991 was amended 25 times. But the ecologically sensitive coastal region has become more and more vulnerable because of unregulated development and failure of current CRZ notification 1991. Therefore regulation of illegal construction by resorting since 1991 as the cut off year and not opting for 2008," Devale said.

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Published on: Thursday, October 28, 2021, 02:10 AM IST