West Bengal, where erosion leads to land loss

Context

  • A national survey of India’s coastline from 1990 to 2016 shows West Bengal saw the maximum proportion of coastal erosion in India.

 

Background

  • Coastal zones are dynamic interfaces between land and water as a result of which locations of high-density development.
  • Coasts are subjected to frequent natural hazards including flooding, storm impacts, coastal erosion and tsunami inundation.
  • Coastal erosion is a constant problem with most open-shores of India.
  • With, nearly 250 million people living within 50 km of coastline in India, they are threatened by coastal erosion.
  • Thus governments at various times have initiated studies on shoreline movement in India.

 

 

 

Highlights of the report

  • The National Centre for Coastal research under Ministry of Earth Sciences has carried out a study on shoreline changes along mainland of India between 1990 and 2016.
  • As per the report, Indian mainland has lost about 234.25sq. km of land to the sea from 1990 to 2016.
  • Out of the 7,517 km long coast line of India:
    • 2,533 km, or 38 per cent remained stable
    • 2,156 km or 33 per cent had eroded
    • 1,941 km expanded
  • 11% of Indian coast is susceptible to high levels of erosion of more than 5 m per year.
  • According to the survey:
    • Natural causes of erosion include wave action, wind action, storms, tidal action and sea level.
    • Anthropogenic causes of erosion are construction, mining and dredging of coastal areas.
  • East coast witnessed more erosion as a result of frequent cyclonic activities from Bay of Bengal in past three decades, while west coast is relatively more stable.
  • West Bengal saw the maximum proportion of eroded coastline with 63 per cent its coastline eroded.
  • It is followed by Puducherry (57 per cent), Kerala (45 per cent) and Tamil Nadu (41 per cent).
  • Goa and Maharashtra have the most stable coastlines in India.

 

 

Significance of the Report

  • Coastal erosion leads to irreversible loss of land and infrastructure to the sea.
  • Besides changing shorelines will severely impact the fishing industry.
  • Thus a national survey of coastline will provide inputs for framing policies to address the stress of the people residing in coastal areas.
  • Further it would also help in improving preparedness to face coastal hazards such as storm surges and Tsunamis.

 

Highest Erosion in West Bengal

  • West Bengal has about 158 km of coastline, covering an area of 534 sq km.
  • It has one of the largest deltaic regions of the world.
  • Besides it is home to tidal halophytic mangroves.
  • WB has lost maximum land of 99.05sq.km or 63% due to coastal erosion during 1990-2016 as a result of tides, tropical cyclones and storm surges etc.
  • While the land gain due to accretion has been only 16 sq km.

 

Impact

  • Climate change refugees
  • The Sunderbans is facing severe erosion on its western and south eastern parts with loss of more than 80 sq km of coastal land.
  • With population density of about 1,000 people per sq km, the stress has led to migration from these coastal areas and islands called “climate change migration.”

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