Despite the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) guidelines issued by the government and Coastal Zone Management Authorities (CZMA) appointed in various states and union territories, the coastline of India is in a poor state, according to a report in India Climate Dialogue, a website which provides news and views on climate change, how it affects India, and what can be done about it.
The total length of India’s coastline is more than 7,500 km. Around 250-300m people live along this, and a majority is dependent on the coast and sea for their livelihood. Today, one third of the coast is under threat.
A study, covering the period between 1990 and 2016, by the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), a department of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, speaks about new landmass formation (accretion), which is almost as much as erosion. Nevertheless, erosion remains a concern for several state governments and the people living along and near the shoreline.
West Bengal, Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu are among the top states where erosion is more than 40%. States like Odisha and Andhra Pradesh have seen more than 40% accretion, which means formation of land due to deposit of sediments.
While the extreme weather events like cyclonic storm Ockhi, which hit Kerala last year, can be attributed to global warming, erosion can be best explained by other factors, both natural and anthropogenic (changes in nature caused by human activity).
The NCCR report counts more than a dozen reasons for the shoreline change. Natural reasons identified in the report range from action of waves to sea storms to sea level rise. Construction of structures at the coast like harbours, beach mining and building of dams on rivers are the main anthropogenic causes cited.
Flouting of rules is rampant. Coastal regulation guidelines are diluted by the government itself to facilitate ill-planned development projects.