What are CRZ-I, CRZ-IV, CRZ-I A, and CRZ-I B areas? (as per 2019 amendment)

Coastal areas were classified through an MoEFCC notification in 1991.

CRZ-I areas have been defined as ecologically sensitive and important areas, and include “national parks/marine parks, sanctuaries, reserve forests, wildlife habitats, mangroves, corals/coral reefs, areas close to breeding and spawning grounds of fish and other marine life, areas of outstanding natural beauty/historical/heritage areas, areas rich in genetic-diversity, areas likely to be inundated due to rise in sea level consequent upon global warming and such other areas as may be declared -by the Central Government or the concerned authorities at the State/Union Territory level from time to time.”

The 2019 amendment further classified these areas into subcategories based on ecological significance and protection requirements.

Exploratory drilling has the potential to cause environmental damage including degradation of soil, soil pollution, pollution of surface and underground water, and atmospheric pollution, among others. The separation and exemption of exploratory drilling from CRZ clearances in the proposed amendment is concerning, since it goes against all obligations of the government to protect the environment.

CRZ-I A comprises ecologically sensitive areas (ESAs) and geomorphological features that play a role in maintaining the integrity of the coast. These include mangroves; corals and coral reefs; sand dunes; biologically active mudflats; national parks, marine parks, sanctuaries, reserve forests, wildlife habitats and other protected areas under the various wildlife, environment, and forest protection Acts; salt marshes, turtle nesting grounds, horseshoe crabs’ habitats; sea grass beds; nesting grounds of birds; areas or structures of archaeological importance and heritage sites.

CRZ-I B comprises intertidal zones, i.e., the area between low tide and high tide lines.

CRZ-IV areas are coastal stretches in the Andaman & Nicobar islands, the Lakshadweep islands, and small islands except those designated as CRZ-I, CRZ-II or CRZ-III