Economically Importance of Indian Coast to Environment Sensitivity & Economic Potential of Indian Coastline
A wide range of coastal ecologically sensitive areas such as mangroves, seagrass, coral reefs, tidal flats, estuaries, lagoons, sand dunes and salt marshes occur along the coast and nearly one-fourth of the country’s population living within 50 km of the coast. Several rivers flow into the Bay of Bengal on the east coast and into the Arabian Sea on the west coast, carrying large quantities of sediment. The east coast is dominated by large river deltas and sandy beaches, while the west coast consists of an intricate network of estuaries, backwaters, predominantly rocky coastline. Coastal habitats alone account for approximately one-third of all marine biological productivity and estuarine ecosystems. The service and goods from the coastal ecosystems generate provisioning services which include food, salts, minerals and oil resources, construction materials and biodiversity including genetic stock that has a potential for various biotechnological and pharmaceutical applications.
There are 13 major ports and 176 non-major ports along India’s 7500 km (including island territories). India is the sixth largest producer of fish with an annual potential yield of 3.92 million tons. The coastal fishing employs a million -people full time and the post-harvest fisheries sector employs another 1.2 million people. An estimated 200,000 traditional crafts carryout traditional fishing and about 35,000 mechanized fishing boats are enhancing their fishing capacity annually.
Challenges and Vulnerabilities
Despite their ecological richness and the contribution to the national economy, the coastal and marine areas have not received adequate protection and are under stress. The major issues related to misuse, overuse, abuse of resources and coastal ecosystems, conflicts among stakeholders, increasing damages from coastal hazards, threats to livelihood security, growing pressure, demand for economic infrastructure, and the overarching concern for sustainable development. The key challenges that pose a threat:
- The Vulnerability of coastal areas and coastal communities.
- Increasing pressure of expanding urban and rural growth and economic needs.
- Degradation of coastal and marine resources and habitats.
- Cumulative contamination and pollution from sectoral and uncontrolled developments.
- Sectoral planning and management in marine and coastal areas are uncoordinated and often conflicting.
- Lack of integrated planning of economic infrastructure.
- Legal and policy frameworks are not adequately implemented.
- Lack of involvement of relevant stakeholders in natural resource management
- Lack of adequate capacity, skill, knowledge in managing coastal zones.
- Climate change induced risks to coastal communities and infrastructure.
Consequently, an integrated approach across sectoral, disciplinary, and institutional boundaries towards the development of economic infrastructure in the coastal zone, protection of ecological and cultural landscapes and traditional rights, promoting social equity and security, poverty reduction of vulnerable coastal population, strong institutional and regulatory mechanism for planning and management of the coast is seen as crucial to India’s balanced and sustainable growth and development.
Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project, Phase-I
The Indian coastline is around 7,500 km which include the mainland and the islands of Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar home to the unique marine and coastal ecosystems. About 25% of the Indian population living along the coast/islands of India and depends upon the coastal resources and opportunities. The vulnerability of these populations to the natural and man-made disasters arising from the sea including tsunamis is very high. Hence, the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change has initiated Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Project in India to protect and conserve the coastal and marine ecosystems and its environment through a holistic coastal management and to implement the National Environment Policy 2006, recommendations of “Final Frontier 2009”, Public Accounts Committee (2009–2010) [PAC], and CRZ Notification, 2011 and IPZ Notification, 2011 regulatory framework with public participation. The provisions of the project are to:
- Achieve sustainable development of the coastal and marine area.
- Reduce vulnerability to natural hazards which have major implication on the coastal areas and coastal communities especially with respect to Sea Level Rise (SLR) and increased frequency of cyclones and storm surges.
- To conserve and protect the fragile coastal ecosystems such as the mangroves, brackish water wetlands and coral reefs, including addressing the pollution of coastal waters and livelihood improvement of local communities.
- Strengthen institutional and governance capacity for Integrated and sustainable Coastal Management as per the National Environmental Policy 2006.
- Capture and disseminate lessons in best practice, both locally and globally.
The project is being taken up on a pilot scale with the assistance of the World Bank in the identified stretches in the States of Gujarat, Odisha and West Bengal.
Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) is the nodal agency for the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Project I which is being implemented with assistance from the World Bank with a budget outlay of Rs.1580.10 crores (US$262 million) from July 2010 with the completion timeline of 31st December 2018 and providing leadership, guidance, approvals, funds and facilities.
At the National level, it has the objective to establish and support an appropriate national institutional structure for guiding and coordinating coastal zone management. Its sub-components include:
- Hazard line and coastal sediment cell mapping
- Mapping of ecologically sensitive areas
- Establishment of National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM); and
- National level capacity building.
Towards the development and implementation of State Level approach to ICZM in the three pilot States of Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, the objective is to develop and empower state-level authorities to adopt appropriate ICZM approaches consistent with national strategies. The subcomponents include:
- Preparation of ICZM Plans for select coastal stretches;
- Institutional strengthening of state-level coastal zone authorities;
- Pilot investments consistent with local ICZM priorities around three themes of coastal resources i.e. conservation/protection; pollution management; and community livelihood enhancement and adaptation to threats from sea-level rise.