Erosion hits a fourth of India’s coastline: study

Over 40 per cent of Maharashtra's coastline, 89 per cent of Karnataka's, all of Lakshadweep's and 83.9 per cent of Kerala's have been affected by erosion, according to an analysis that concludes that developments across India's coastline are not sustainable. It is part of a massive coastal area mapping project, or CAMP, by Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Pondy Citizens' Action Network or PondyCAN, and Bombay Natural History Society.

According to the findings, 23.4 per cent of India's coastline has been impacted by erosion. Of the erosion in Lakshwadeep, 55 per cent is severe, against 11.1 per cent in Maharashtra and 17.5 per cent in Karnataka.

The three organisations have been jointly working on creating a first-of-its-kind web database for coastal development in India. It is being worked into an online database that will be constantly updated, edited and reviewed and will be on the lines of Wikipedia.

"We are developing a GIS database for coastal development in India. Coastal environment plays a vital role in India's economy by virtue of the resources, productive habitats and rich biodiversity. India's coastline stretches about 7,500 km and supports almost 30 per cent of its human population. However, rapid and unplanned urbanisation, impact of poorly planned infrastructure projects like coastal power plants, ports and coastal erosion have led to degradation of India's coastline to alarming proportions. Our study reveals that the current developments are not sustainable and untenable," said Sudarshan Rodriguez, CAMP project coordinator from TISS.

"The absence of interdepartmental and Centre-state coordination is the biggest obstacle to fostering a sustainable coastal management strategy. Proper planning can prevent turning these invaluable natural resources into biological and economic wastelands," he added.

The interactive and working database will consist of geo-spatial mapping of all developments across India's coastlines, both current and proposed, case studies of impacts of these developments on coastal ecosystems and communities.

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