Fish workers call for mass protest

KOLKATA, 24 OCT: Fish workers across the country have called for a mass protest against the draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) 2010, issued by the Union ministry of environment and forest, on 29 October demanding withdrawal of the draft notification.
The National Fish Workers Forum, spearheading the protest, has also issued a list of demands, including substantial representation from the fishing communities in the Coastal Zone Management Authority at both the state and national levels. They have also demanded that the recognition of the rights of the traditional fishing communities to their habitat, the rights of fishing communities to repair, reconstruct and develop their housing in tune with the natural population growth be recognised in the CRZ areas, including in urban areas. The norms for this should be developed in consultation with the fishing communities and their organisations.
Mr Matanhy Saldanha, former Goa tourism minister and chairperson of the National Fish Workers Forum, said: “These are primary demands of the fishing communities articulated time and again during the 10 public consultations organised by the ministry. If our demands were not taken note of why were these consultations organised at considerable time and expense?”
Various fishworkers’ associations have rejected the draft stating it was just a copy of the pre-draft with minimal changes. The members of these associations have been protesting against SEZs, nuclear and atomic power plants, greenfield airports, thermal plants and large housing projects in the coastal zone, building of ports in coastal areas without a prior, comprehensive, cumulative impact assessment, provision allowing roads-on-stilts in CRZ areas, “special considerations” being given to Greater Mumbai, Kerala and Goa and creation of “Critically Vulnerable Coastal Areas (CVCA)”.
Mr Saldanha said it is essential to take note of the cumulative impact of developmental projects. “Can our coasts withstand a port every 27 km on an average as is currently being envisaged?” he asked.
He said there is no logic for creating CVCAs. The draft notification calls for preparing management plans for such CVCAs. This could become the pretext to allow for tourism and other activities in what are already “no-development” CRZ-I Areas. There is need to guard against such possibilities for dilution of regulations.
They have also called for a protest against the use of Hazard Line for purposes of regulating activities within the CRZ, exclusion of the islands from the CRZ Notification and bringing territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles within the CRZ regime, without regulating activities such as drilling for oil and gas and mining, which have high environmental impact.

Soma Basu

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