Coastal regulations: steadily watered down

By Deepti Mohan, Vidhii Partners

India has a coastline of around 7,517 kilometres. The coastal areas support 30% of the population and therefore their regulation and preservation plays a pivotal role in achieving sustainable development.

Legal framework

The first notification for regulating development on the coast was issued in February 1991 by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), under section 3(2)(v) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. It aimed to restrict the setting up and expansion of industries, operations and processes in coastal areas. However, over time the notification appears to have lost sight of its primary objective. A series of almost 25 amendments made between 1991 and 2009 has not only diluted the notification’s mandatory protective provisions, but has also sought to regulate activities that are arguably beyond its scope.

Deepti Mohan Partner Vidhii Partners
Deepti Mohan
Vidhii Partners

The 1991 notification defines a coastal regulation zone (CRZ) and classifies the same into four categories (CRZ-I to CRZ-IV) depending on the ecological sensitivity of the area and the level of construction that exists. Most importantly, it specifies prohibited and permissible industrial activities within a CRZ and expressly restricts setting up new industries or expanding existing industries, except those directly related to the waterfront or needing foreshore facilities and where such requirement cannot be met by some indirect connection or source.

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Deepti Mohan is a partner at Vidhii Partners and can be reached at



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