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Urban development, environmental vulnerability and CRZ violations in India: impacts on fishing communities and sustainability implications in Mumbai coast

Chouhan, Hemantkumar A., Parthasarathy, D., Pattanaik, Sarmistha
Environment, development and sustainability 2017 v.19 no.3 pp. 971-985
biodiversity, carbon footprint, cities, cleaning, coastal zone management, coasts, drying, fish, fisheries, fishing boats, industrialization, livelihood, marine environment, population density, resource management, streams, urbanization, wastes, weaving, India
Coastal Regulations in India are traced back to the UN Conference on Human Environment, held in Stockholm in 1972. The Environment Protection Act (EPA) 1986 was enacted to implement India’s commitments as a signatory. The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification of 1991 was made under the provisions of the EPA in order to protect coastal environments and social and livelihood security of fishing community. This paper assesses the effects of CRZ rules and violations in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, which has experienced tremendous growth due to the rapid industrialization and urbanization. This process has led to the destruction of mangroves and other important species of fish which play a crucial role in sustaining the coastal ecology and urban biodiversity; high population density and uneven growth have exacerbated adverse environmental and socioeconomic consequences. The Koli (fishing community) in this region faces huge problems of survival and sustenance in small-scale fishing, due to the rampant commercial fishing by big trawlers and large-scale dumping of waste materials by the industries surrounding the vicinity into the sea. In small but significant ways, the fishing communities through their traditional commons-based resource management and livelihood systems protect the coastal ecology and help the cities in reducing their carbon footprints. On the basis of primary field research in Thane–Mulund Creek Bhandup, Chimbai, and Sewri, this paper attempts to assess CRZ violations taking place on coastal areas and is causing damage to the coastal ecology. The research specifically has focused on the particular fishing-related activities and spaces—such as: jetties, parking of boats, access to sea, weaving and drying of nets, landing grounds, drying and cleaning of fish that are more affected by encroachment of seashore area and by CRZ rules violations. It evaluates the actions taken by Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority and Bombay Municipal Corporation while implementing rules and making Integrated Coastal Zone Management plan for management of marine environment. It raises broader issues relating to the contradictions and complementarities involved in ICZM plans vis-a-vis management of biodiversity, within a larger context of rapid urbanization and demands for real estate growth. The paper argues that urban biodiversity management requires clear valuation of the long-term ecological and socioeconomic benefits of sustenance of coastal ecology and related livelihoods.