CAG report on violation of coastal ecosystem norms-The INDIAN EXPRESS-29-10-2022

CAG report on violation of coastal ecosystem norms-The INDIAN EXPRESS-29-10-2022


Recently, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India tabled a report in Parliament on whether steps taken by the Union Environment Ministry to conserve India’s coastal ecosystems have been successful.This latest report contains the observations from an audit of Conservation of Coastal Ecosystems from 2015-20.


India has a coastline of around 7,516 kilometres and the coastal regions are significant for economic growth.

The regulation of coastal zones is crucial for protecting the country’s coastal environment.

Coastal Zone Regulation:

The Union government has issued notifications under the Environment Protection Act (1986), to regulate activities along India’s coasts, particularly regarding construction.

The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification (CRZ) 2019 classifies the coastal area into different zones to manage infrastructure activities and regulate them.


CRZ-I constitutes ecologically-sensitive areas, such as mangroves, corals/coral reefs, sand dunes, national parks, marine parks, sanctuaries, reserve forests, wildlife habitats, etc.

They are situated between high tide lines and low tide lines. * High tide line - the line of intersection of the land with the water's surface at the maximum height reached by a rising tide. * Low tide line - the line on the land where the lowest tide of water touches during spring tide.


It constitutes the developed areas up to the shoreline, which fall within the existing municipal limits.

The development of unauthorised structures is not allowed in this zone.


Localities, such as rural areas that are relatively undisturbed and do not fall under the above categories, are included in this zone.

Only specific activities related to agriculture or certain public facilities are permitted under this coastal regulation zone.


The zone constitutes water areas from the low tide line up to territorial limits, including areas of the tidal-influenced water bodies.

Activities such as fishing and other allied services are permitted in this zone.

Implementing Agencies:

National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA) at the Centre,

State/Union Territory Coastal Zone Management Authorities (SCZMA/UTCZMA) in every coastal State and Union Territory,

District Level Committees (DLCs) in every district that has a coastal stretch.

Why did the CAG undertake this audit?

The CAG has a constitutional mandate, under Article 151, to investigate and report on publicly funded programmes.

It conducted “pre-audit studies” and found that there were large-scale CRZ violations in the coastal stretches.

Incidences of illegal construction activities (reducing coastal space) and effluent discharges from local bodies, industries and aquaculture farms had been reported by the media and this prompted it to undertake a detailed investigation.

Key Findings of the Audit report:

The audit pointed out various categories of violations.

For one, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change hadn’t notified NCZMA as a permanent body and it was being reconstituted every few years.

In the absence of defined membership, it was functioning as an ad-hoc body.

There were instances of the Expert Appraisal Committees (EACs) not being present during project deliberations.

EAC is a committee of scientific experts and senior bureaucrats who evaluate the feasibility of an infrastructure project and its environmental consequences.

There were instances of the members of the EAC being fewer than half of the total strength during the deliberations.

SCZMA had not been reconstituted in Karnataka and there was delayed reconstitution in the States of Goa, Odisha and West Bengal.

The DLCs of Tamil Nadu lacked participation from local traditional communities. In Andhra Pradesh, DLCs were not even established.

Also, there were instances of projects being approved despite inadequacies in the Environment Impact Assessment reports.

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