Fishermen communities across Mumbai are protesting against the modification plan of the coastal line because this is only helping real estate developers. The most eroded coastline in Mumbai is Dadar-Shivaji Park beach. With the construction of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, the natural rejuvenation of the beach with fresh sand has stopped. The area towards Prabhadevi has become completely rocky while a portion of Chaityabhoomi’s left side is also facing the same threat.
Developmental activities along the Mumbai shoreline were one of the main reasons for coastal erosion. Construction of structures along the coast that project into the sea reduces the natural sedimentation or beach rejuvenation. This might be one of the main factors for an increase in erosion along Mumbai’s coast. However, other examples are a change in currents and a rise in sea level over time or even a combination of both for a prolonged period that can erode a beach severely. Erosion takes place when a range of human-based activities disturbs the unembroidered sediment transport or beach building process.
The fishermen community has already started criticizing the CRZ move. The easing of CRZ norms for construction will destroy the coast and its natural resources in Mumbai, including marine fish resources. There should be no change in the prevalent CRZ norms without holding consultations with the community. In 2008, the government (the UPA regime) had unilaterally tried to replace the CRZ notification. They were forced to later rescind the measure following countrywide protests by the community.
Even the apex body of the fishermen community, the National Fishworkers Forum, has raised objections to these norms. In Mumbai, there are around 38 koliwadas, which are home to more than 50,000 people. But these new CRZ norms will endanger the homes and therefore the fishermen community have to come together to oppose the same.
The new CRZ norms are being referred to as Marine and Coastal Regulation Zone, which has few tweaks which have enraged the fishermen community. The Shailesh Nayak Committee had then recommended the changes. The draft norms propose to allow public amenities like coastal roads and sewage treatment plants. According to the 2011 CRZ notification, there is no new construction allowed in this zone. The new draft also proposes to limit the CRZ area to only 500 meters from the high-tide lines (HTL), excluding hazard lines (Hazard line identifies areas that are prone to coastal calamities and vulnerabilities). Are the ecologically sensitive areas that are essential in maintaining the ecosystem of the coast? They lie between low and high tide lines. Exploration of natural gas and extraction of salt is permitted.
The 2011 CRZ notification had frozen the FSI, but the new draft on the recommendations of the Maharashtra state government will ease these norms and allow a greater floor space index (FSI) in CRZ-II areas. The 2011 CRZ norms mandated that slum redevelopment schemes be done with a 51 per cent stake of the state government. The new draft will do away with that condition and allow private builders to have a full stake in the build. Are the areas that form up to the shoreline of the coast? The unauthorized structures are not allowed to be constructed in this zone.
The central ministry in 2015 has proposed to relax the existing no-development zone (NDZ) to 50 m from the high-tide line (HTL), from the earlier norm of 0-200m construction of homes and other structures are prohibited in the NDZ. This relaxation will allow the construction of houses and temporary tourist facilities beyond the 50 m mark. Foreign currency and gold seized at Mumbai international airport are the rural and urban localities, which fall outside the 1 and 2. Only certain activities related to agriculture, even some public facilities are allowed in this zone. This lies in aquatic areas up to territorial limits. Fishing and allied activities are permitted in this zone. Solid waste should be let off in this zone.
The draft notification also allows for the setting up of fish-processing units, makes allowance for facilities meant for patrolling and vigilance activities of the coastal or marine police, and removes the necessity of obtaining environmental clearances for constructing housing units, and related infrastructure, for the local fishermen community. But the fishermen don’t just need housing, but sustainable fishing practices and a clean sea.
If the water is polluted, there will be no fish for us to catch. The NFF also expressed fear that the move would strengthen private companies, which had invested heavily into tourism hotspots while ignoring the existing CRZ notification. The Koli fishing communities in Mumbai stand to lose livelihood opportunities once the notification comes into force. Their land will be ceded and catch will be affected. A proposed sea link in the city will destroy mangroves and affect their catches, which is already dwindling due to industrial effluents and solid waste being dumped into the sea.