Home Articles Easy Access Coastal Information System

Easy Access Coastal Information System

A. Sreejith
Marine Sciences Division
Centre for Earth Science Studies
Trivandrum – 695 031

K.V. Thomas
Marine Sciences Division
Centre for Earth Science Studies
Trivandrum – 695 031
[email protected]

K.O. Badarees
Marine Sciences Division
Centre for Earth Science Studies
Trivandrum – 695 031

In view of the tremendous development activities taking place in the coastal zone and the associated problem of ecosystem degradation, the Government of India realised that the most cost-effective long-term solution to protect endangered coastal zone of India is to set aside spatial buffers around coastal ecosystems. Subsequently, the Ministry of Environment and Forests enacted the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification issued under the Environment Protection Act of 1986 (MoEF, 1991). Coastal stretches of seas, bays, estuaries, creeks, rivers and backwaters which are influenced by tidal action (in the landward side) up to 500 m from the High Tide Line (HTL) and the land between Low Tide Line (LTL) and HTL, are declared as CRZ. Restrictions are imposed and guidelines formulated for various coastal activities. Coastal Regulation Zone is categorised as CRZ I(i), CRZ I(ii), CRZ II, CRZ III and CRZ IV based on whether the area is ecologically sensitive, developed, undeveloped or islands. Lack of easy access to information is resulting in non-compliance of the CRZ norms (MoEF, 2005).

Although coastal regulation zones have been demarcated, maps prepared and a digital database created for many coastal states, a Net-based Coastal Information System is lacking. Such a digital web-enabled Easy Access Coastal Information System (EACIS) would provide easy access to maps and information to costal zone managers, administrators, industrialists, other stakeholders and the general public, thus ensuring coastal development within the framework of the CRZ. Moreover such an interactive information system would have a number of intuitive tools to access and interact with, as the result of which the multi-dimensional geographical information provided in the Internet will help map-users to actively participate in not only evaluating the spatial data provided by the internet but also visualize the maps in accordance with the need of the map-user.

ArcIMS (ArcInternet Map Server) is the solution for delivering dynamic maps and GIS data and services via the Web. This paper discusses uses of GIS techniques ArcSDE, ArcIMS, Arc View, ASP.net and RDBMS in the development of a web-enabled EACIS for the state of Kerala. The main objective is to provide an easy access support for decision makers to get comprehensive information about CRZ areas and related spatial and non-spatial information to manage coastal development.

Data Sources
CRZ maps prepared in 1:12,500 scale (CESS, 1995) and cadastral scale (Thomas et al. 2005) form the main data input for the present information system. The coastal zone land use maps for the CRZ (CESS, 1998) provide detailed coastal land use. These were already available in the digital format. Survey of India toposheets, Hydrographic charts, Census report and reports from state Departments were also depended to get additional information.

Design of Easy Access CIS
Input data required are converted into digital format and geeorefernced using GPS data. Data layers overlay on each other and attached with non-spatial information for data and query analysis. EACIS is prepared for data access, visualization, and manipulation via the Internet using ArcIMS. Image Map Service was chosen to make sure most process are carried out on the server side itself. EACIS has some imperative GIS functionalities enabled such as Interactive Zoom In and Zoom Out, Panning the map, switch layers on and off, etc. EACIS makes sure the user can easily access database, store query and other available information in the site with single mouse click. User can give query or access to the stored query in EACIS using the tools such as query builder, stored query (search) panel etc. All information regarding CRZ including definitions available from CRZ notification is given in the EACIS.

The coastal zone of Thiruvananthapuram District in Kerala is studied as a pilot project. Information on the HTL, LTL and CRZ categories have been derived from the CRZ maps. Cadastral level CRZ maps are available for selected locations in Thiruvananthapuram. These maps give information, which is easily understood by implementing officers in various government departments. The locations for which cadastral level CRZ maps are available and the details are part of the EACIS.

Georeferenced information on drainage, road-rail network, bathymetry, etc was derived form toposheets and hydrographic charts through ArcGIS. The location of infrastructure like ports and harbours, fish landing centers, tourism areas, different landuse polygons and assets like cultural establishments, local facilities, etc are incorporated into the base map. Long term trends in shoreline changes were also derived by comparing multidated maps. The definition of CRZ, HTL, LTL, the CRZ categories or major information about the place etc are available using the identify tools. CIS provides the user a chance to share the ideas about the maps, data etc using the tools such as edit notes, map notes etc other than contact information. Information such as definitions, provisions of the regulations, etc can be retrieved from the CIS (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. CRZ categories are defined
Easy Access Coastal Information System for Thiruvananthapuram coast
Thiruvanathapuram Corporation, Varkala and Attingal Municipalities and 21 other panchayats in Thiruvanathapuram district have CRZ. Out of these 12 are along the seacoast and 9 are on the banks of rivers/backwaters. It consists of CRZ I, CRZ II and CRZ III categories.

The information system shown in Fig. 2 shows the easy interface for the user to browse CRZ of all these local bodies. Each coastal panchayat can be identified and the HTL, LTL, CRZ boundaries and categories and No Development Zones (NDZ) can be displayed including quantified information. User can insert his development site into its location in the CRZ map and assess the CRZ status to determine the feasibility of development. Any officer can verify the CRZ status of a proposed development and give clearance. It now takes months to determine the CRZ status of a development proposal. The decision taking process would reduce to a few days with an access to the Easy Access CIS developed. Detailed local level CRZ maps in cadastral scale, whichever available, are inserted (Fig. 3) and can be accessed by local level officers for an accurate interpretation of regulations. More such cadastral CRZ maps can be inserted whenever these are prepared. Query facilities embedded with the CIS are HTL, LTL, CRZ categories, No Development Zones, 500m & 200m regulation lines, prohibited and permissible activities, roads, rails, etc.

Fig. 2. Local bodies with CRZ in Thiruvanathapuram District

EACIS also contains pages that describe what the site is about, contact information, a disclaimer about use of the site and the data held within it, guidelines about data sets used and where they may be purchased and downloaded, a help page describing how to use the application, and a page with links to information about coastal management, mapping and GIS.

Fig. 3 Cadastral scale CRZ map of Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram

Using ArcIMS tools an effective decision support system has been developed and web enabled. E-governance is expected to be in all the government establishments in Kerala even to the panchayat level. The availability of Easy Access Coastal Information System for the CRZ of Kerala could extend the decision taking process with respect to CRZ to panchayat level and thus make it faster and more reliable. The coastal tourism industry, for which it takes about one year even to make plan proposals in confirmation with CRZ, will be much benefited by this. NGOs and the general public would be able to identify CRZ violations in coastal area and thus be a check to illegal constructions, which may upset the sensitive coastal ecosystems. This will also be useful to planners and administrators at different levels like panchayat, block, district and the state.

Authors wish to thank the Director, CESS, Thiruvananthapuram and Head, Marine Sciences Division, for providing necessary facilities to carry out this work. Thanks are due to Dr. M. Samsuddin, Mr. V.N. Neelakandan and Dr. Terry Machado, Scientists, CESS, for providing digital CRZ maps. Thanks are also due to Miss. Sharika Mathew, Miss Nandini.K.B and Miss P.M. Anita, Research Fellows and other colleagues for the support.


  • CESS, 1995. Coastal Zone Management Plan of Kerala, Centre for Earth Science Studies, 77p.
  • CESS, 1998. Coastal Zone Management Plan of Kerala: Coastal Landuse and Resources, Vol 1,2 & 3. Centre for Earth Science Studies, 176p.
  • MoEF, 1991. Notification No.S.0114 dated 19th Feburary, 1991, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India, New Delhi.
  • MoEF, 2005. Report of the Committee chaired by Prof. M.S. Swaminathan to review Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, Feb 2005, p.116.
  • Thomas, K.V., Baba, M., Chattopadhyay, S. and Kurian, N.P., 2004. Integrated Coastal Zone Management. In: Earth System Science and Natural Resources Management, Silver Jubilee Compendium ed: Ravindra Kumar, G.R. and Subhash, N. Centre for Earth Science Studies, pp.279-295.