Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said people, especially fishermen living in the coastal areas of the state, were facing problems due to restrictions in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification issued by the Centre.
The state would prepare an Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) project taking into consideration the issues faced by the coastal people and seek the Centre’s approval for its implementation, he said after inaugurating a two-day workshop on ‘Coastal Protection and Management, in Thiruvanathapuram.
Vijayan said even though the Centre while issuing the CRZ notification in 2011 had sought such a project from states, but Kerala had not made any progress in that respect.
The Centre at that time itself had asked the states to prepare the ICZM within one year and get the approval of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest, he said.
Due to restrictions under CRZ, people in coastal areas were not able to construct residential houses and even undertake repair work of the existing ones, he claimed.
“The problems faced by people in the region could only be addressed by getting a clearance of the state’s Integrated Coastal Zone Management project,” he said.
Stressing the importance of coastal protection and conservation, the Kerala Chief Minister said the state have 7.71 lakh fishermen population living in 222 coastal villages spread across 590 KM coastal line.
Even though around 6.5 lakh tonnes of fish per annum is caught in the state, the social economic and living conditions of fishermen, lack of housing facilities and vulnerability to rough weather conditions were plaguing the coastal population quite badly, he said.
As per the background paper circulated in the workshop, there was a strong feeling among the fishermen communities in the state that some of the restrictions under CRZ “encroached upon the traditional rights of the coastal communities which were socially, culturally and economically distinct from the mainstream communities”.
The main objective of the workshop was to prepare the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project, State Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty said.
“Kerala is yet to prepare its ICRM plan and is consequently deprived of privileges to get exemption under CRZ notification, which is creating a lot of difficulties for the fishing population across the state coast,” she said.
The project once completed would prepare local bodies wise CRZ plans, delineate areas which require exemptions under CRZ notifications, and propose a holistic plan for the protection and management of Kerala coast, she said.
Many states have already got sanction for the Integrated Coastal zone management project and relaxation under rules in accordance with the conditions exist in respective states, the minister added.