Tag Archives: India’s Dying Beaches

Gujarat’s Mangroves Under Threat – NDTV Report

June 8, 2009

The fourth report on NDTV’s “India’s Dying Beaches” series covers the destruction of a mangrove forest at Mundra, the site of India’s largest private port and Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which covers 60 kilometres of Gujarat’s coastline.  10,000 fisherfolk have lost their livelihoods due to the privatization of coastal property for port and allied developments.

The report highlights the gradual dilution of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), first established in 1989, with 21 ammendments to date, to allow such things as the storage of liquid natural gas (LNG) and petrochemicals within 500 metres of the coastline.  Incredibly, the environmental clearance authority for ports was transfered from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to the Ministry of Surface Transport and Shipping – a clear conflict of interest!

The text of the report is found below:

Gujarat’s mangroves under threat
Tejas Mehta
Monday, June 08, 2009, (Mundra)

Gujarat, the state which has India’s longest coastline is home to one of the country’s largest ports and special economic zone. One which will occupy over 60 kms of the coast.

This is the stark reality of what is happening here in Gujarat, at one of India’s largest ports. Hundreds and hundreds of mangroves hacked with complete disregard and apathy in a zone that is high eco-sensitive and protected.

The strip of land was originally part of the port plan but later dropped because of mangroves. A crucial cover that protects the coast from erosion and storms.

An example of how much of the development on our coasts takes place haphazardly. Unlike in the West where port projects are based on environment studies and rights of coastal communities is respected.

Ironically, 20 years ago India came out with forward looking policy — the Coastal Regulation Zones or CRZs.

In 1989, CRZ was introduced before UN’s Climate Change Convention, but since then the CRZ policy has undergone 21 changes effectively diluting it.

So, now rural land 200 metre from the sea is no longer a no-development zone. Now, storage facilities for LNG and petrochemicals are allowed.

Then the environmental clearance authority for ports was transferred from the Ministry of Forests to the Ministry of Surface Transport and Shipping.

As a result regulator and regulated became one.

A conflict of interest ensued since the regulator and the regulated became the same. At Mundra port a top government official had warned against damage to the coast.

A 2006 report used satellite pictures to issue this warning:

The Adani Private Port at Mundra and other projects pose a threat to the neighbouring mangroves. Controversy regarding the gradual and smooth destruction of mangroves near Mundra was raised again and again. The industrial development.. has already caused serious damage and the process of degradation continues by intentional and unintentional approach of the industries,” wrote H S Singh, former Chief Conservator of Forests (Research), Gujarat.

“They first blocked the creek, stopped the water from flowing in. The mangroves died and they dumped dredged sand on it. Following which, they tell the government the land is ‘unsurveyed wasteland’, give it to us,” said Bharat Patel, Marine Environmentalist.

Allegations, the Adani group has denied in the past.

But the worst hit over 10,000 fishermen. Today with coastal belt sold to the port their livelihood is gone.

“We kill fish, we eat fish. Fish is our only source of livelihood. We want the sea and the shore. Nothing else,” said Haroon Siddique, fisherman.

“The industrialists are happy. But one day the government will have to think about us. We will fight till death. We won’t leave them,” said Ibrahim Majalia, fisherman.

Core of that battle perhaps, already lost.

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Sea Claims Orissa Villages – NDTV Report

June 3, 2009

The second report on NDTV’s “India’s Dying Beaches” is focussed on the devastation in the state of Orissa.  Despite the evidence of more than 1 to 1 1/2 kilometres of eroded beaches after the development of Paradeep Port in 1968, the Orissa government has 11 new ports slated for development, including 3 major ones.

The accompanying news report is given below:

India’s dying beaches
Sampad Mahapatra
Wednesday, June 03, 2009, (Paradeep, Orissa)

A study conducted recently by the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa, says that 23 per cent of India’s shoreline is getting eroded with four states — Maharashtra, Orissa, Karnataka and Kerala being the worst affected.

In Orissa, over 100 kms out of the state’s 480-km long coastline are facing erosion. One of the causes of beach erosion is human activity that interferes with sea dynamics such as ports.

The Paradeep port, the major port in Orissa, which came up in the late 1960s, has caused massive erosion across beaches up north and the worst example of this is Satbhaya panchayat in Orissa’s Kendrapara district where five hamlets have already been devoured by the sea.

In Orissa’s Kanhupur, five villages have been gobbled up by the sea. Satbhaya in Orissa’s Kendrapara district suffered seriously after the Paradeep port and its artificial breakwaters were built in the late 1960s.

“Scientific studies by the National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai have clearly shown that all ports lead to erosion in the north side. Since 1968 when Paradeep Port came up Satbhaya beach has started eroding. In fact the beach has been reduced as much as one to one and half kms since those days,” said Biswajit Mohanty, environmentalist.

The waves keep invading the villages every time the sea turns rough even the artificial sand barrier is no protection at all. So, when storms like Cyclone Aila strike, waves of saline water breached the embankment and inundated nearby villages. Over the years huge stretches of land are lying fallow.

But the Orissa government has not learnt its lessons. It’s hell bent on clearing half a dozen new port projects including three major ones. The state environment department however says there’s no reason for worry.

“We are taking steps and measures to protect the people and the sea-shore by plantations, by rehabilitation. We are taking up mangrove plantation and taking up casuarinas plantation so that sea erosion will not be there,” said Bhagirathi Behera, Director, Environment, Orissa.

Going by the disastrous effects of port-building activity experts have asked the state government to expand and upgrade existing ports rather than go for a string of new ones.

“I don’t know how the government can think of going ahead with 11 ports without having any concern for the effects the ports will have on fishermen, marine ecology and beaches,” said Biswajit Mohanty.

For an establishment drunk with the idea of rapid economic progress at any cost, the idea of protecting and preserving the sandy beaches may appear a little too overbearing but that is a liberty it should not perhaps be allowed to run away with.

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“Coastal Chennai Losing Homes to Sea” – NDTV Report

June 2, 2009

Following their report on the Death of India’s Beaches on 28 May, NDTV has started a series called “India’s Dying Beaches”, slated to cover all the coastal states of India.

Their first report in this series:  “Coastal Chennai losing homes to sea” can also be viewed on the NDTV site here.

Marina Beach, now considered the second longest beach in the world, was “born at the death of another”, north of the port.  In the northern suburbs of Chennai, not only have homes and coastal livelihoods been destroyed, the ground waters have turned saline, and villagers have to depend on “private tanker mafia”, paying Rs. 50 per day for their daily needs.

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