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Coastal Regulation Zone, 2018

Into the Sea with Regulations

J Jeffrey Immanuel (, Anshul Singh (, and N C Narayanan ( are with the Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas, IIT Bombay, Mumbai.


A response to “Contested Coasts: The Draft CRZ Notification, 2018” by Preeta Dhar (EPW, 18 August 2018) seeks to buttress the original argument by presenting evidence from the fieldwork conducted in Pulicat, Tamil Nadu.

The article by Preeta Dhar “Contested Coasts: The Draft CRZ Notification, 2018” (EPW, 18 August 2018) critically discusses the disengagement of the public in the formulation of the new 2018 Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification. In response to the same, this article desires to vindicate the author’s arguments with some key evidences from the fieldwork conducted in Pulicat, a coastal village situated in Thiruvallur district in Tamil Nadu for a period of two months.

A total of 13 villages are located on the northernmost east coast line of Tamil Nadu and are separated from Andhra Pradesh by a 200 metre (m) bar mouth in between. This opening to the sea is significant for the livelihoods of the local fishers, the ecology of the Pulicat lake and the entire drainage of Thiruvallur district in Tamil Nadu. The 13 villages on the coast are sandwiched between the sea on the one side and the Buckingham canal on the other, thereby bounded between the high tide lines on either side making them highly vulnerable to any form of even the slightest of disasters, both anthropogenic and natural. There are a total of 36 villages located in the Pulicat revenue village according to the data collected from the office of the Pulicat village administrative officer (VAO) that are under the administrative jurisdictions of four different panchayats—Light House, Kottaikuppam, Thangal Perumbulam and Pazhaverkadu with a highly dense population of 27,680 people and 6,920 households.

The shorelines have kept invading the land area, thereby limiting the livelihood spaces for the local communities. A village elder from Light House Kuppam told us that the shoreline which was once 500 m away is now hardly 150 m along many parts of the coast with drinking water pumps disappearing into the sea in one of the adjacent villages called Koraikuppam. He blames the development and expansion of several ports—Kattupalli, Ennore, Chennai, etc, and commissioning of the Minjur Desalination Plant, India’s largest desalination plant catering to the industries and few localities in North Chennai, with a capacity of 100 million litters per day (John 2017)—for exacerbating the problem of reduction in the shorelines.

Insights from the field reveal that there has been a complete lack of knowledge regarding the coastal regulatory framework in these coastal villages, except for a handful of fisher volunteers who work along with the local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society groups like the Thiruvallur District Traditional United Fishermen Association. This woeful situation renders it convenient for the authorities to easily do away with the process of public consultation in mapping the coastal areas with minimal/no participation from the villagers. Such callous implementation of the coastal regulatory framework could result in agonising situations, first for the local stakeholders and then for the other communities around.

Problems with CZMP

The 2011 CRZ notification decreed the release of the Draft Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) within 24 months from the issue of its notification with public consultation but it was released as late as January 2018. The mapping of the hazard line had to be carried out in 1:25,000 scales for macro-level planning and in 1:10,000 scales for micro-level planning (MoEF 2011) but it has been completely disregarded in the Draft CZMP. The idea of local level CZM maps for the use of local bodies, to be prepared in 1:3960 or the nearest scale to facilitate implementation of CZMP has also been completely dumped. While all this sketchy work was still unfinished, the new 2018 Draft CRZ notification has been released, reducing the CRZ limit of 100 m in the 2011 CRZ notification to 50 m. It has completely ignored the concept of hazard line, exposing the coasts to further abuse in the name of development.

The local NGOs and civil society groups speculate that the change has been brought to pave way for the Sagar Mala project which explicitly states Port Led Development and setting up of CEZ for aiding port-led industrialisation in its project documents (MoS 2016). The thread of dissent for this project was visible from the uniform vocal cries of the fishers who participated in the consultation on the 2018 Draft CRZ notification conducted by Coastal Action Network and the Coastal Resource Centre on 11 May 2018.

The accuracy of the CZMP maps that were released is also questionable. The CZMP maps covering the revenue village of Pulicat has missed out on several fishing villages and many of them have been mapped in the wrong places which clearly shows the lack of any fieldwork being done and the usage of inaccurate and old baseline maps for the preparation of the same. The village Sathankuppam was shifted by the government, from the coast to the land on the opposite side after the tsunami in 2004, but this village has still been marked in its old place on the coast. Only three villages—Gunangkuppam, Nadukuppam and Vairankuppam (actually Vairavan Kuppam) have been otherwise marked on the coast, but there are a total of 13 villages on the coast—11 from Light House Kuppam panchayat, Koraikuppam from Thangal Perumbulam panchayat and Karungali which is from a different revenue village. The boat parking spaces and other coastal commons of all these villages have been ignored.

Another appalling fallacy noted in the mapping of these villages in the study area is the fact that several villages rehabilitated and resettled from the Sri Harikota Island owing to the construction of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in 1967 and the cyclone in 1984 were still marked in the Sri Harikota Island in Andhra Pradesh. The villages under the Pulicat revenue village and their present state of affairs in the CZMP map have been summarised in Table 1. The Sri Harikota Space Centre, a celebratory monument of our country is absent from the CZMP map and these are just a few examples of the innumerable grave errors that have been committed during the preparation of the maps.

The new regulatory framework fails to grasp the import of such dire blunders in the maps prepared according to the mandates of the previous regulatory framework. This provides a fragile platform for the acceptance of the new framework and effective and equitable coastal governance beyond the boundaries of sustainable development, thereby unveiling the fort of the fishers for untroubled annihilation.


John, Ekatha Ann (2017): “How Chennai Depends on the Sea for Its Water Supply,” Times of India, 7 June,

MoEF (2011): “Coastal Regulation Zone Notification,” Government of India, New Delhi, http: //

MoS (2016): “Sagarmala: Building Gateways of Growth,” Government of India, New Delhi,

Updated On : 11th Mar, 2019


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