• Home
  • Mandate
  • About Us
  • Activities
  • Publication
  • Training
  • People
  • Tender
  • Recruitment
  • Photo Gallery
12th Plan programmes

The Ministry of Earth Sciences (erstwhile the Department of Ocean Development- DOD) initiated a programme on Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management (ICMAM) to promote the adoption of the concept of ICMAM in the Coastal areas of the country, by using appropriate scientific tools and techniques.  This concept facilitates sustainable management of coastal zone and rational utilisation of resources by incorporating environmental and social concerns in all the sectoral developmental activities.  It achieves these goals by minimising  adverse inter-sectoral impacts while carrying out the sectoral activities.   Geographic Information System (GIS), Remote Sensing, Mathematical Modelling and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) have been selected as tools and techniques that are useful in addressing and comprehending  the inter-sectoral impacts in the coastal areas. The then DOD established a dedicated technical unit namely ICMAM Project Directorate (ICMAM-PD) at Chennai in 1998 to implement the ICMAM Programme.   Since the task is being carried out for the first time in the country, initially capacity building activities were undertaken with funding from the International Development Association (IDA) thro' MoEF.   Pilot projects, that were undertaken in this regard, include GIS based information system for 11 critical habitats, Determination of Waste Assimilation Capacity for pollutants, Development of EIA guidelines for coastal activities and Development of Model ICMAM Plans for Chennai, Goa and Gulf of Kachchh.  These projects completed in June 2003, resulted in attainment of expertise in the areas of Coastal Zone management especially on application of Remote Sensing and GIS for coastal habitat management; demonstration of use of mathematical modelling in determining Waste Assimilation Capacity (WAC), coastal erosion and accretion and Development of EIA Guidelines to address the inter-sectoral impacts in ports and harbours, waste disposal and tourism sectors.   R & D projects on Zonation of coastal waters and Determination of No Impact Zone for developmental activities that helped in demonstrating the use of GIS and mathematical modelling in habitat management were also completed during this period.  Periodical training programmes on the above aspects were conducted for technical personnel in the state governments to facilitate use of these tools in the Coastal Zone Management.  Besides the above activities, the ICMAM Project Directorate is co-ordinating the technical activities of the Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMAPS) programme which monitors coastal water quality since 1990.

To facilitate the continuous updating of knowledge on application of the above scientific tools and techniques the MoES is continuing the ICMAM Programme with its own funding.  During the 10th and 11th plan periods, the ICMAM PD has implemented applied research programmes such as Shoreline Management, Management of tidal inlets, Ecosystem Modelling, Zonation of coastal waters, satellite oceanography and Marine Ecotoxicology.

Having implemented the above projects at various locations successfully, as a continuation on research in coastal zone, during 12th plan both the ICMAM and COMAPS programmes have been integrated and called as Coastal Research.   The  Following projects are being undertaken:

  • Monitoring of water quality in selected  estuaries and coastal waters.

  • Prediction of water quality along the coasts of Mumbai and Chennai
  • Development of seawater quality criteria for selected chemicals
  • Ecosystem modeling of South West Coast of India and validation of model outputs of Chilika and Kochi backwaters
  • Coastal circulation and sediment transport modeling at selected locations along the Indian Coast
  • Capacity building

Objectives of the above project activities are:

  • To predict primary productivity of coastal waters of Southwest coast of India under changing environmental conditions and suggest appropriate environmental conditions to achieve optimum productivity
  • To detect periodical changes in the water quality of the estuarine, coastal and marine system and to alert government and public of their implications through bulletins
  • Prediction of trend of water quality at priority locations to facilitate undertaking of mitigating measures before they reach alarming levels
  • To develop seawater quality criteria for heavy metals such as Aluminium and organic compounds such as pyrene, anthracene for coastal waters of selected locations along the Indian coast
  • To map shoreline changes along the Indian coast and to estimate the sediment transport rates along the Indian coast to facilitate understanding of causes of their decrease or increase due to manmade activities
  • To enhance human resources on issues relating to coastal zone in the country

Details of activities being undertaken are given below:

1.        Monitoring and Prediction of Health of Estuarine and Coastal Waters

Estuarine and coastal areas of India in the recent years are under immense stress due to rapid growth of population density and economic activities. The estuaries, coastal waters and wetlands provide highly diverse and productive ecosystems and are therefore important food sources for human beings. Pollution through both domestic and industrial wastes, either as point or non-point sources, affects the water quality in the productive estuarine, coastal and marine environment.  Long-term monitoring of health of estuarine and coastal seas is highly essential to assess the status of pollution in relation to remedial measures taken periodically. In view of this, a programme on Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMAPS) addressing the above issues is being operated along Indian coastal areas since 1991.

The main objective is to assess the health of estuarine and coastal waters through an observation network and provide current status of pollution, trends of variation and their predicted levels for the future.

The tasks involved are:

  • To establish a baseline pollutant inventory for all known pollutant sources (domestic sewage, industrial effluents surface run-off, etc) in the respective regions.
  • Monitoring water quality, sediment, biological and microbiological parameters
  • Inter-laboratory comparison exercise to ensure compatibility between the data acquired by various monitoring agencies
  • To identify and preserve marine microbes and to serve as a reference facility
  • To develop the database for the data collected under COMAPS monitoring programme for ready dissemination of various data sets to end users
  • Monitoring of organic compounds like Polyaromated Hydrocarbons in selected organisms collected at selected locations along the coasts of India
The parameters on which data are being collected are:

Water Quality: Atmospheric and water Temperature, suspended solid concentration, transparency, Dissolved oxygen, salinity, pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, total nitrogen, inorganic phosphate, total phosphorus, silicate and Petroleum Hydrocarbons and organic compounds such as  polyaromatic hydrocarbons, Carbon parameters. heavy metals such as iron,manganese,zinc,aluminium,copper, lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel and mercury

Sediment and organisms:  Total Organic carbon, texture, iron, manganese, zinc, aluminium, copper, lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel and mercury. One bivalve for estimation of trace metals (aluminium, copper, lead, cadmium, zinc, chromium, nickel and mercury).

Dissolved alkali and alkaline elements: Sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, sulphate, iron, manganese, aluminum, copper, lead, cadmium, zinc, chromium and nickel.

Biological Parameters: Total viable counts, E.coli, Streptococcus faecalis (in water and sediment), Chlorophyll a,b,c, Phaeophytin, phytoplankton, Zooplankton, macro and meiofauna and macro fauna  in beach and sea sediments

Institutions involved and their areas of investigation are:

Monitoring Institute

Monitoring coast


RC NIO, Mumbai


Vadinar, Veraval, Hazira including Tapi river mouth


Mumbai (Thane creek), Worli outfall, Malvan

National Institute of Oceanography, Goa


Sea off Mandovi  including Mandovi river mouth

Centre for Earth Science Studies, Trivandrum




Kochi including mouth of Kochi backwaters



Centre for Advanced Studies in Marine Biology, Parangipettai


Ennore coast including mouth of  Ennore creek,  Tuticorin and Puducherry

Regional Centre, NIO, Visakhapatnam

Andhra Pradesh

Kakinada , Visakhapatnam

Institute for Minerals and Materials Technology, Bhubaneswar

Orissa & W.Bengal

Paradip, Sandheads, Hooghly mouth

Dept. of Marine Sciences, University of Kolkata

West Bengal


Andaman & Nicobar Centre for Ocean Science and Technology, NIOT, Port Blair


Port Blair

Supporting activities

Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi/State Boards

Sources of pollution data base

National Institute of Oceanography, Kochi

Microbial reference facility

ICMAM Project Directorate, Chennai

Monitoring of heavy metals at selected locations

Inter-calibration exercise

Organic pollutants and Carbon parameters



Status of  pollution at 20 estuarine and coastal locations along with trends of increase and decrease over the years / seasons with periodical health bulletins

2.   Prediction of water quality along the coast of Mumbai and Chennai

The discharges of untreated domestic and industrial effluents have degraded the near shore waters (0-2 km) at various locations  such as Veraval, Mumbai, Kochi, Ennore,  Vishakhapattnam, Sandheads etc along the coast resulting in decrease in dissolved oxygen and increase in pathogenic bacteria and nitrogen. Offshore water quality is degraded off Mumbai. DO, BOD, NO3 and Pathogenic bacteriaare the few important water quality parameters required to assess the impacts of discharge of waste water on the health of the coastal waters. Excess loading of nitrogenous nutrients from untreated effluents may lead to eutrophication resulting to occurrence of toxic algal blooms.The oxygen deficiency is a serious problem in many estuaries and coastal waters. DO is affected largely by the waste influx, especially the organic particulate matter, which causes depletion of DO in the process of organic degradation, besides other processes that regulate DO. BOD is employed as a gross measure of the oxygen demanding potential of the effluent. Pathogens are primer indicator of water quality relating to human health as consumption of fish contaminated with bacteria lead to gastro-intestinal ailments.

Ideally pollution should be viewed as a unified problem wherever it is found, however, there needs to be a convenient limit to the scope of the subject which would otherwise be too expensive to tackle. Therefore, it is proposed to develop, test and apply site specific models in selected locations along Indian Coast, where baseline information of water quality data exist through a long-term pollution monitoring programme namely COMAPS. The present study will provide analysis and predict the Water Quality (Dissolved Oxygen, BOD,NO3 and Pathogenic bacteria, ) for mega cities namely Mumbai and Chennai by developing an integrated modeling system that is flexible and readily adapted for implementation in diverse coastal ecosystems using a standard modelling frame work. These sites are selected as they have high sewage load and industrial outfalls.

As dissolved Oxygen, BOD,NO3 and Pathogenic bacteria in water are primary important parameters for assessing the water quality of coastal areas. The proposal is aimed to setup a  modelling system for  ensuring sustenance good water quality by providing future trends of extent of their increase and appropriate strategies to restore normal levels where the increase in excess of desired levels.


  • To predict the likely changes in DO,BOD, NO3 and bacteria from  the current, possibly to a decade
  • To provide extent of their excess presence against  the required level for sustenance of marine life
  • Tasks involved 

    The studies will be performed through mathematical modeling exercises using field investigations. The predictive models will be setup to predict the special and temporal pattern of water quality for different scenario of future trends against increasing load of pollutants. The major tasks involved are:
    • a baseline pollutant inventory for all known pollutant sources (domestic sewage, industrial effluents surface run-off, etc) for selected site and estimation of load into the coastal waters
    • collection of physical, chemical and biological data required to develop predictive models 
    • Modelling of  DO-BOD, NO3  and transport / fate of pathogen bacteria  in waters
    • Web based information on water quality trends
    Institutions involved :

    Name of the Institute

    Coastal Study area

    ICMAM Project Directorate, Chennai

    Collection of  required data along Chennai coast and modelling
    Modelling of water quality for Mumbai coast

    Regional Centre, NIO, Mumbai

    Collection of  required data along Mumbai coast

    The expected output is:

    • Prediction of levels of DO, BOD, Nitrate and  Bacteria, for Chennai and Mumbai coasts and generation of periodical health bulletins for dissemination to the users

    3.        Habitat-specific Water Quality Criteria

    The management of pollution is a major task as the marine environment is constantly seen as a convenient zone for dumping of wastes.  In order to ensure prevalence of seawater quality to perpetuate the reproduction of marine organisms leading to continuous availability of fishery resources to the dependant population, the most accepted method in control of marine pollution is limiting the quantity and characteristics of the wastes up to the extent to which coastal waters can assimilate. This is being achieved only by determining Waste Assimilation Capacity of coastal areas, as at several locations, the seawater quality have shown signs of degradation and likely to worsen further in future. The waste assimilation capacity needs safe water quality criteria as its target water quality to be achieved after estimating quantity of waste to be dumped. Hence, the Marine Ecotoxicology project which prescribes safe seawater quality criteria which is extremely essential and being continued for the 12th plan period.


    The main objective is to develop specific habitat quality criteria for ecological sensitive areas like coral reefs and coastal waters of Ennore and Kochi.

    Tasks involved

      (i) Acute toxicity tests to derive LC50/EC50 values and chronic tests (for sub-lethal stress) under continuous flow through method, biomarker enzyme assay and histopathology studies would be carried out for following chemicals by the institutions mentioned

    Managnese, Iron, Nickel, Selenium and Aluminium and pesticides like Chloropyrifos, and Hexchlorocyclohexane (HCH) and also organic compounds like Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPHs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) on  marine food chain organisms in Ennore waters 

    Zinc, Copper, Cadmium, Mercury and Lead; on  marine food chain organisms in the coastal waters of Kochi  by  Kerala State Pollution Control Board in association with Cochin University of Science and Technology

    Arsenic, Zinc, Lead and  Chromium on the 4 marine food chain organisms in the waters of Gulf of Mannar by Madurai Kamaraj University

        Hatchery to produce fingerlings of fishes required for toxicity studies at Annalamalai University

     (ii) tests on stress stabilizing enzymes and the extent of tissue injury and cellular changes.

    The expected output will be

      • Seawater Quality Criteria for selected metals and organic compounds as aids in Pollution control activities

    4.        Ecosystem Modeling of South West Coastal Waters of India and validation of model outputs of Chilika and Kochi backwaters.

    Tropical seas sustaining rich bio-resources are the most valuable ecosystem related to human activity. The human interventions such as engineering modifications, hydraulic controls, industrial establishments etc. lead to progressive transformation in the coastal ecology. Excessive nutrient loadings have become a serious environmental issue in coastal waters causing eutrophication and unusual phytoplankton blooms. The nutrient distributions in coastal waters are controlled by a complex physical-chemical–biological interaction process associated with input, advection/dispersion, and export. Since these are complicated and non-linearly coupled, studies on eutrophication usually rely on water quality models involving transformation and utilization of inorganic and organic matter. Frequent occurrences of hypoxia have caused significant reduction of fishery harvests, toxic algal blooms, and loss of bio diversity. The quantification of all sources and biogeochemical processes like biochemical processes and tropic level relationships using mathematical models greatly help prediction of primary and secondary productivity. The study is expected to explore and formulate an environmental management plan to rejuvenate these coastal area based on the present status and projected demands. The present proposal is an attempt to predict the primary and secondary production through an ecosystem model to the south west (SW) coastal water of India. Besides the anthropogenic factors, climate change related impacts like SST may affect metabolic processes of organisms which would be reflected in annual rate of production and biodiversity. These aspects will be coupled with the Ecosystem model

    Understanding the health  of the ecosystem in terms of productivity, it's likely trend in the future are extremely essential to plan measures required for preventing decline of resources.  One of the most reliable tools available today to fulfill this need is an ecosystem model to understand the dynamics of components of ecosystem, their inter-relationships and to quantify the transfer of energy from one trophic level to the other.  Use of such tools would certainly facilitate to delineate the causes of decline of productivity of the coastal waters of southwest coast of India

    The major objectives are:

    1. To understand the varied biogeochemical processes in the south west coastal waters. 
    2. Development of a coupled hydro-ecosystem model for predicting primary and secondary level production with quantification energy transfer up to tertiary level.
    3. Simulation of hydrodynamic characteristics, water quality and phytoplankton biomass in terms of chlorophyll through models.
    4. To prepare a sustainable management plan to help the local community.
    5. Validation of model outputs of Chilika and Koch backwaters in terms of       productivity

    Tasks involved

    • Time-series data for physical, chemical and biological parameters to understand the circulation and dynamics of the ecosystem up to 50m depth
    • Biogeochemistry of nutrients and carbon
    • determination of  coefficients through field and laboratory experiments. 
    • Prediction of primary production using the water quality model and secondary production using ecological model.
    • An optimized ecosystem model to be formulated specially for SW coast of India

    The project activities shall be implemented by ICMAM PD itself.

    The expected output is an Ecosystem model for Southwest coast of India providing scenarios of changes in primary and secondary productivity  under the changing environmental conditions useful to plan take measures to ensure optimum productivity.  These will be achieved over a period of 5-10 years.

    5.        Coastal circulation and Sediment Transport modelling along the Indian Coast

    The coastline is subjected to several geo-morphological changes due to natural processes and manmade activities. Shoreline changes are one of the serious problems in several pockets along the Indian coast. Understanding the coastal circulation shoreline changes is essential in order to sustain it for future generations. The shoreline retreat leads to the loss of the beach and consequently to a setback of the coastline that threatens the coastal communities.  The major information that is required to understand the shoreline changes is coastal circulation and sediment transport pattern.  Therefore, during the 12th plan a comprehensive programme in this regard will be taken up.

    The major objective is to understand the Coastal circulation and sediment transport processes in Coastal Waters of Maharashtra to provide the seasonal pattern of sediment transport at priority areas to facilitate assessment of shoreline changes.

    The tasks involved are:
      • Assessment of Shoreline Changes using satellite data & Field verifications of maps to generate shoreline changes maps
      • Setting of Regional Coastal Circulation model for 3-4 regions along Indian coast using data collected from other programmes of MoES  and limited observation programmes
      • Sediment transport modeling  using Secondary data & Littoral Environment Observations and estimation of sediment transport rate  cell wise/regionwise along the Indian coast

    The component on Shoreline Changes which is mainly focus on the Modelling  and GIS application with statistical analysis  will be implemented  by ICMAM-PD at national level.  The component on data collection, numerical modeling and sediment budget computations for regional scale will be implemented jointly by ICMAM PD, and  NIOT. While ICMAM PD along with NIO will determine the sediment transport rate along the coast of Maharashtra, NIOT shall be  carrying out similar studies at selected coastal locations in the remaining part of the country.

    The planned institutional arrangement to implement the project activity is:

    Name of the Institute

    Study area

    ICMAM Project Directorate along with NIOT, NIO and CESS

    Monitoring of shoreline changes and mapping
    Nearshore circulation studies and estimation of sediment transport

    The expected outputs are:

    1. A GIS based database shoreline change maps at 1:25000 for entire country and 1:5000 scale for selected locations  and  mapping Annual/periodical Shoreline changes 
    2. Understanding coastal circulation and process influencing the sediment transport
    3. Location-wise information on direction of sediment  movement and estimation of sediment budget seasonally

    6.  Training

    ICMAM PD has been conducting training programmes on Coastal zone management, marine pollution, GIS for disaster management, satellite oceanography etc since 2000. Since these training programmes have been found to be useful to technical personnel of coastal states, universities etc., it is proposed to continue these activities during the 12th plan. The training programmes will be largely executed by scientists of ICMAM PD and experts from selected institutions.