(Environment & Ecology)General Studies Paper 3
Question:- 39. Coastal areas are fragile ecosystems that need to be protected. Enlist the measures taken by various governments in this regard. Answer in 250 words
Aug 13, 2022


The Indian coastline runs over a distance of 7500 km (5700 kms on mainland) and this belt comprises of a wide range of ecosystems extending from sandy beaches and mangroves to coral reefs and rocky shores. India has a variety of natural coastal ecosystems. The Western coastline has a wide continental shelf and is marked by backwaters and mud flats. The east coast is low-lying with lagoons, marshes, beaches and deltas rich in mangrove forests. Coral reefs are predominant on small islands in the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu and on Lakshadweeep and Andaman and Nicobar groups of islands. Coral reefs, mangroves, estuaries and deltas are delicate and fragile ecosystems rich in biodiversity.

The narrow coastal stretches are under immense pressure today as a very large segment of the population want to live there. Living on the coast is highly attractive because of scenic beauty, moderate weather, plentiful and cheap seafood, innumerable opportunities for employment in the fishing, shipping and leisure activities. Besides, the most fertile agricultural lands are found beside the coast. Industries prefer to be located close to the coast for easy discharge of their effluents. Thermal and nuclear power plants are also located on the coast for easy access to plentiful water for cooling. Ports and harbours on the coast are an important source of employment and overseas trade. Tourism flourishes on the coast owing to all the water related sports and activities.



The following steps have been taken by various governments for the protection of coastal areas:



  1. 1.Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2019
  • issued notifications under the Environment Protection Act, 1986
  • to conserve and protect coastal stretches, marine areas and to ensure livelihood security to the fishermen and other local communities
  • classifies the coastal area into different zones to manage infrastructure activities and regulate them.
  • setting up of industries and expansion of industries are prohibited activities and other developmental activities/projects are regulated/ permitted as per provisions of the said notification.
  • ‘No Development Zones’ (NDZ) along various categories of coastal areas to protect India’s coastline from encroachment, erosion and accretion.
  • The bodies at Central, State and District level examine if CRZ clearances granted by the government are as per procedure, if project developers once given the go-ahead are complying with conditions, and if the project development objectives under the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Programme (ICZMP) are successful. They also evaluate the measures taken up by the government towards achieving the targets under Sustainable Development Goals, a set of United Nations-prescribed targets for countries towards eradicating poverty and becoming sustainable societies.
  1. 2.MoEFCC has delineated the hazard line for the entire coast of the country. The hazard line is indicative of the shoreline changes, including sea level rise due to climate change. This line is to be used by agencies in Coastal States as a tool for Disaster Management including planning of adaptive and mitigation measures. The hazard line features in the new Coastal Zone Management Plans of the coastal States / Union territories approved by the MoEFCC.
  2. 3.A national strategy for coastal protection along with guidelines has been framed for all Coastal States and Union Territories by MoEFCC.
  3. 4.The Flood Management scheme of Ministry of Jal Shakti, including anti-sea erosion schemes, are planned and executed by the State Governments with their own resources as per priorities of States. Union Government renders assistance to states which is technical, advisory, catalytic and promotional in nature.
  4. 5.Considering the importance of collection of data on coastal processes towards coastal protection measures, a new component “Coastal Management Information System (CMIS)” was initiated under the Central Sector Plan Scheme “Development of Water Resources Information System”. CMIS is a data collection activity carried out to collect near shore coastal data which can be used in planning, design, construction and maintenance of site specific coastal protection structures at vulnerable Coastal stretches. Establishment of three sites each in the State of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and union territory of Puducherry has been completed.
  5. 6.Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan: It is a process for the management of the coast using an integrated approach, regarding all aspects of the coastal zone, including geographical and political boundaries, in an attempt to achieve sustainability.
  6. 7.National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management: It aims to promote integrated and sustainable management of the coastal and marine areas in India for the benefit and wellbeing of the traditional coastal and island communities.



1/5th of the total population of India lives along the coast. Hence, protecting them from disasters –cyclones, tsunamis and climate change is a priority. Also, the diverse ecosystems located in the coastal belts demand utmost care. Coastal Zone management is important to develop and sustainably utilize the coasts for sustainable development.  Use of technology, community participation and removal of bottlenecks like lack of coordination at various levels can help in preservation of these delicate ecosystems.