The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is the fourth armed force of the Union of India. Its mission is the protection of India’s maritime interests and enforcement of maritime law with jurisdiction over the territorial waters of India, including contiguous zone & exclusive economic zone. The permanent Coast Guard was constituted as an armed force of the Union on 19 August 1978, under the Coast Guard Act – 1978, which came into force on that day. This Act specified the Coast Guard’s duties and functions:
- Ensuring the safety and protection of artificial islands, offshore terminals, installations and other structures and devices in any maritime zone.
- Taking such measures as are necessary to preserve and protect the maritime environment and to prevent and control marine pollution.
- Providing protection to fishermen in distress at sea.
- Assisting the customs and other authorities in anti-smuggling operations.
- Such other matters, including measures for the safety of life and property at sea and collection of scientific data, as may be prescribed.
- National defence during hostilities (under the operational control of the Indian Navy), Law enforcement in territorial as well as international waters.