National Fishworkers Forum (NFF), an umbrella body of the traditional fishing communities across India, has demanded the withdrawal of a draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification issued by the environment ministry recently.
In an interaction between the Members of Parliament and traditional fishing communities, their unions and local community leaders from across the country in Delhi, NFF alleged that the draft, if notified, will be counterproductive as it will destroy the coastal ecosystem instead of protecting it. The government has brought in the changes in the existing CRZ notification to help develop infrastructure projects like Coastal Industrial Corridors, Sagarmala, Bharatmala, economic zones, power plants, petroleum and manufacturing plants along India's coastlines without consulting the fishing communities whose lives and livelihoods depend on the existence of the coastal ecosystem, NFF leaders said.
"The CRZ Notifications of 1991 and 2011 have been amended 38 times mostly for tourism and industrial purposes and never for the benefit of those dependent on the coast for their livelihoods" says T. Peter, General Secretary, NFF.
NFF seeks the enactment of a comprehensive law to replace the CRZ notification.
The fish workers interaction saw parliamentarians cutting across party lines offer their support.
While Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu assured the government's commitment towards the fisher people, Congress leader K.V. Thomas expressed his solidarity with the steps that NFF has taken in bringing the issue of CRZ to the forefront. BJP MP from Daman and Diu Lalubhai Patel wanted the government to sensitise the officials who prepared the notification about the implications of CRZ. Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut wanted the government to ignore the Shailesh Naik Committee report that recommended the CRZ amendment and define separate CRZs for the east coast and west coast in consultation with local bodies, community organisations and fishworking community. He also pointed out that the notification should be supplied in various regional languages so that people are able to read this and understand the implications clearly. Narendra Sawaikar (Goa), Mohammed Salim (West Bengal), Pradeep Bhattacharya (West Bengal) and Rajendra Gavit (Maharashtra) were among the Paliamentarians who expressed solidarity with the fishing community.
The Delhi government also sent their solidarity message in NFF's fight to scrap the draft CRZ Notification 2018.