December 4, 2021

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The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

Government moots exempting exploratory oil drilling from prior CRZ nod

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Government moots exempting exploratory oil drilling from prior CRZ nod
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Government moots exempting exploratory oil drilling from prior CRZ nod
Government moots exempting exploratory oil drilling from prior CRZ nod

NEW DELHI: The environment ministry has proposed to exempt exploratory drilling operations for oil & natural gas and development of associated facilities in inter-tidal areas from “prior Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance”. A final decision in this regard will be taken once the ministry analyses comments and views of stakeholders after two months.
The proposal was coincidentally issued as draft notification in a gazette on November 1 at a time when the country was negotiating its position on various issues, including use of fossil fuels and its fair share in carbon space at the UN climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow, UK. Stakeholders and experts are expected to share their views on this draft proposal with the ministry by the end of next month.
The ministry had in January 2019 issued a notification declaring certain coastal stretches as CRZ, restricting setting up and expanding industries, operations and processes in the ecologically-fragile zone along coasts. However, now it proposed easing out such restrictions for oil & natural gas drilling operations, acting on requests of the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, and other stakeholders, and subsequent recommendation of the National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA).
“In post-liberalisation India, regulatory instruments like CRZ were introduced to balance the government’s economic priorities with the duty to protect environment and ensure social welfare. These instruments have always been amenable to introducing amendments in favour of specific projects or sectoral demands. However, the proposed changes to the CRZ is unapologetic about foregrounding the demand of the oil and gas industry as a justification, and contravenes the objective of the notification set up to ‘conserve and protect’ coastal stretches and ensure ‘livelihood security’ of fisher and other communities,” said Kanchi Kohli, senior researcher at the Delhi-based think-tank, Centre for Policy Research (CPR). “It is also important to locate this (proposed) amendment along with the series of changes made to the impact assessment and public hearings procedures for the oil and gas industry over the last two years. The sector has been recognised for production maximisation by the government. Amendments such as the one proposed can be understood to be responding to this call, and are not intended be based on studying the socio-ecological implications of this deregulation,” she added.
The ministry through its draft has also proposed other changes in the CRZ notification, 2019, such as retaining “purely temporary and seasonal structures (shacks)” during the monsoon season with adequate precautions, and giving regulatory power to concerned coastal zone management authority in the state in case of giving clearances to stand-alone jetties, breakwaters, salt works, slipways and manual erosion control bunds. This move of decentralisation may speed up the process of creating such structures.

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