Critically discuss the potential implications of recent amendment of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011 towards mining for atomic minerals in coastal India.
Coastal Regulation Zone notification are issued by Ministry of Environment under Environment (Protection) Act 1986 to protect and conserve coastal environment, ensure livelihood security to fishing and local communities and promote development in a sustainable manner.
Amendment to Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, allows mining of atomic minerals like uranium, thorium or titanium in ecologically sensitive CRZ areas, irrespective of whether they are available in non-CRZ areas or not. Earlier, mining of rare minerals could be carried out with environment ministry’s permission only if they are not found anywhere else
- Atomic minerals are required for strategic and other requirements by the Department of Atomic Energy and development of nuclear power, aircraft industry.
- The notification stipulates necessary safety measures for mining in CRZ areas it only allows for manual mining.
Environmental activists and conservationists have criticized the amendment for following reasons:
- It would lead to tampering of fragile coastline would also invite disasters like salt water intrusion, qualitative and quantitative degradation of ground water.
- Atomic mining could bring serious health complications to residents around the mines in coastal areas and raise the risk of diseases like cancer.
- Activists say the resources could end up in foreign soil owing to lack of state-run companies’ expertise in handling such rare-earth minerals
- Coral mining, beach sand mining and other dredging activities are highly harmful and contribute to sea erosion.
- Amendment also opens up inter-tidal areas of CRZ-1 for manual extraction, which increases the vulnerability of the fast-eroding coastal stretches.
Coastal ecosystem are already facing issue of illegal sand mining and amendment may make it worse hence stringent rules with proper safeguards are necessary to prevent any ecological crisis.
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