coastal conflict

Drafted in secrecy, India’s new coastal rules enable more tourism, houses closer to shore

It took multiple RTI applications to get a preview of the draft notification, but the full details are yet to be revealed.

On March 22, leading national dailies reported that the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011 was being replaced with a new framework called the Marine Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2017. It was clear that a new law was on the anvil, but its contents were not publicly available. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change had only shared copies of “stakeholder” meetings on the Marine Coastal Regulation Zone, in response to a right-to-information application.

A copy of the proposed 2017 notification was accessed by Meenakshi Kapoor of the CPR-Namati Environment Justice Program following a file inspection on Tuesday. Yet again, the ministry failed to disclose suo moto the proposal to amend the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification despite directions from the Central Information Commission in 2008 and 2016 to do so and the government’s commitment to transparency.

The draft notification proposes significant changes to the manner in which coastal zones are to be managed and regulated for a variety of activities. The proposed changes are not only a change in nomenclature with the word “marine” appended to the law, but have far-reaching social and ecological implications:

  1. Temporary tourism facilities will be allowed in Ecologically Sensitive Areas (Marine Coastal Regulation Zone I). The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011 does not allow temporary tourism facilities in Coastal Regulation Zone I areas.
  2. Development in urban areas (Marine Coastal Regulation Zone II) to be regulated as per prevailing local laws. The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011 allows development in Coastal Regulation Zone II areas as per the town and country planning norms of 1991. This was done to acknowledge the need for the local town and country planning norms to be aligned with the Coastal Regulation Zone notification, which was issued for the first time in 1991.
  3. Housing and basic infrastructure for local inhabitants will be allowed 50 meters from the High Tide Line in rural areas (Marine Coastal Regulation Zone III). The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011 permitted houses for coastal communities after the first 100 meters of Coastal Regulation Zone III areas.
  4. State and Union territory governments are to prepare tourism plans for their respective Marine Coastal Regulation Zone areas. No such tourism plans are mentioned in the 2011 notification (see detailed comparison between the current and proposed notifications here).
  5. Area under Marine Coastal Regulation Zone will depend only on tidal demarcations (High Tide Line and Low Tide Line). The 2011 notification links the Coastal Regulation Zone area with Hazard Line in addition to High Tide Line-Low Tide Line demarcations (see details here).

Under wraps

While the notification proposes changes to coastal regulation, the details of the new clauses lie in the 10 annexures that are to go with it. The proposed Marine Coastal Regulation Zone Notification that was accessed mentions these annexures, but they were not made available at the time of the file inspection.

Since 2014, the entire process of reviewing and revising the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011 has been a closed-door exercise. Instead of the ministry inviting suggestions and feedback from coastal communities, researchers, urban planners and legal experts on the implementation of the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification and proposals for reform, there has been reluctance to share the details of this review.

For over a year and a half, despite numerous applications under the Right to Information Act, the report of the committee that reviewed the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011 was not made public (the ministry disclosed the report only after an order from the Chief Information Commission). Four of the nine amendments made to the notification in the last three years were issued without seeking public comments on those (see details here).

The file inspection revealed that even ministries that were asked to provide comments on the draft notification on March 20 were not provided full information related to the Marine Coastal Regulation Zone, in particular the annexures. In April, the Ministry of Earth Sciences and the Ministry of Tourism requested the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to share copies of these annexures before they furnished their comments on the draft.

Researchers, activists, fishing unions and coastal communities have been persistent in their efforts to have an informed and participatory review of the primary law governing India’s coastline, the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011. Fishing groups across the country have written to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change based on what was revealed in the news reports, as there has been no attempt by the government to involve them. Such a participatory review is critical because changes in coastal regulation will have a direct bearing on over 3,200 marine fishing villages and several million residents living across India’s coastline.

This article first appeared on the website of the Centre for Policy Research.

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Decoding the symbolic threads and badges of one of India’s oldest cavalry units

The untold story of The President’s Bodyguard.

The national emblem of India; an open parachute and crossed lances – this triad of symbols representing the nation, excellence in training and valor respectively are held together by an elite title in the Indian army – The President’s Bodyguard (PBG).

The PBG badge is worn by one of the oldest cavalry units in the India army. In 1773, Governor Warren Hastings, former Governor General of India, handpicked 50 troopers. Before independence, this unit was referred to by many titles including Troops of Horse Guards and Governor General’s Body Guards (GGBG). In 1950, the unit was named The President’s Bodyguard and can be seen embroidered in the curved maroon shoulder titles on their current uniforms.

The President’s Bodyguard’s uniform adorns itself with proud colours and symbols of its 245 year-old-legacy. Dating back to 1980, the ceremonial uniform consists of a bright red long coat with gold girdles and white breeches, a blue and gold ceremonial turban with a distinctive fan and Napoleon Boots with spurs. Each member of the mounted unit carries a special 3-meter-long bamboo cavalry lance, decorated by a red and white pennant. A sheathed cavalry sabre is carried in in the side of the saddle of each trooper.

While common perception is that the PBG mainly have ceremonial duties such as that of being the President’s escort during Republic Day parade, the fact is that the members of the PBG are highly trained. Handpicked by the President’s Secretariat from mainstream armored regiments, the unit assigns a task force regularly for Siachen and UN peace keeping operations. Moreover, the cavalry members are trained combat parachutists – thus decorating the PBG uniform with a scarlet Para Wings badge that signifies that these troopers are a part of the airborne battalion of the India Army.

Since their foundation, the President’s Guard has won many battle honors. In 1811, they won their first battle honor ‘Java’. In 1824, they sailed over Kalla Pani for the first Burmese War and earned the second battle honour ‘Ava’. The battle of Maharajapore in 1843 won them their third battle honor. Consequently, the PBG fought in the main battles of the First Sikh War and earned four battle honours. Post-independence, the PBG served the country in the 1962 Indo-China war and the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

The PBG, one of the senior most regiments of the Indian Army, is a unique unit. While the uniform is befitting of its traditional and ceremonial role, the badges that augment those threads, tell the story of its impressive history and victories.

How have they managed to maintain their customs for more than 2 centuries? A National Geographic exclusive captures the PBG’s untold story. The documentary series showcases the discipline that goes into making the ceremonial protectors of the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces.


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This article was produced by Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic and not by the Scroll editorial team.