Kendrapara, June 30 (LocalWire): In the last two decades India has lost around 253 kilometre coastal area to erosion.
Odisha coast is facing severe erosion due to climate change, construction of sea walls, denudation of mangrove forests and several other factors, professor emeritus, department of geo-engineering, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, Dr Kakani Nageswara Rao, said.
He was addressing a media workshop regarding climate change in the Bay of Bengal, organized by Earth Journalism Network and other organisations at Kendrapara on Saturday.
Andhra Pradesh lost 48 kilometre-long coastal area due to erosion from 1990 to 2018 and if the sea level rises even by 0.6 meter by 2100, as has been predicted, around 1.29 million people living in the 282 sea-side villages, mainly wetland dwellers on the state’s coastal fringe, would be displaced. Visakhapatnam lost 54 hectares of beach and 10 kilometre stretch from 1965 to 2017 at an average annual loss of one hectare, added Rao.
He also opposed the construction of a 600-metre-long geo-synthetic sea wall at the seaside village of Pentha in Kendrapara district at the cost of Rs 39 crores.
The state government built the state’s first geo-filter-tube sea wall at Pentha three years back to protect the village from the onslaught of the sea without consulting environmentalists and scientists. The Pentha beach is permanently lost due to the sea wall.
The governments of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu had constructed seawalls in many areas.
But during the tsunami in 2004, the seawalls failed to prevent the ingress of the sea.
The sea is crawling menacingly towards Satabhaya in Kendrapada after the construction of Paradip port in 1960ssince the government had denuded mangrove forests in Paradip to build the port. To protect Paradip from the sea, the government built a sea wall by stone-packing Paradip beach and as a result the sea sea started consuming Satabhaya area, said Rao.
To protect the beach, the authorities should take eco-friendly and cost effective coastal protection measures like beach nourishment, timber fencing, planting vegetation, conserve and regeneration of mangroves, added the professor.
Bhitarkanika National Park has 82 species of mangroves including many sub-species.
During the super cyclone that ravaged the state in 1999, many villages in and around Bhitarakanika was notably far less damaged due to the mangrove forest buffer. But other seaside villages in the Earasama block of Jagatasinghpur district were washed away by the tidal waves.
Mangrove forests provide a formidable natural barrier against cyclones and storm surges and play an important part in stabilising the shore line.
They also serve as nesting and breeding grounds for various terrestrial, arboreal, benthic and aquatic organisms, said Rao.
But many shrimp farm owners denude mangrove forest and convert the forest lands into shrimp farms in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and other coastal states.
The illegal and unchecked growth of shrimp farms render useless the fertile farm and forest lands and pollute the water bodies due to the release of the untreated effluents from the farms into the nearby lands and water bodies, said Rao.