The upcoming plan for coastal zone management should ensure housing and account for the sea level rise, suggest fisherfolk and environmentalists
In the wake of reports that sea level rise by 1m would submerge thousands of hectares of land in Tamil Nadu, fisherfolk and environmentalists have urged the state government to ensure that the soon-to-be released Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) accounts for the rise and contains the mandatory hazard line, long-term plans for fisher housing and prospective land-use.
K Saravanan, whose village Urur Kuppam, Besant Nagar in Chennai, is already witnessing erosion says, “The CZMP should include a long-term housing plan for coastal communities as we are being squeezed by a seaward moving city and a land-ward moving tide.”
Under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011, each maritime state ought to have prepared its CZMP by 2012 containing these mandatory elements.
In 2012, the Indian Space Research Organization's Space Application Centre (SAC) predicted in its report, Coastal Zones of India, that for a 1 m sea level rise by 2100, 85 km of railway infrastructure, 497 sq km of cropland and 826 sq km of aquifers will be submerged or degraded by tidal action.
In Chennai alone, 10 lakh people and 144 sq km of land are in danger of submergence due to sea level rise by 2050, according to a yet to be published report by the State Planning Commission.
SAC's report says that Chennai stands to lose 3 sq km of critical industrial infrastructure, mostly in Ennore. The groundwater resources of Araniyar-Kosasthalaiyar basin will be degraded due to tidal ingress. The entire IT corridor will be affected by sea level rise and most of the newly developed areas in Pallikaranai marshlands will be submerged under an advancing sea. Industries and settlements in low-lying areas – such as the proposed 4,000 MW Cheyyur plant and existing nuclear complex in Kalpakkam, the existing IL&FS plant and proposed petroleum refinery and Petrochemical Investment Region in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam, industrial installations and salt pans in Tuticorin and the Koodankulam nuclear reactors are located in vulnerable areas that are prone either to submergence or degradation due to tidal action.
“Climate change and sea level rise are real and present dangers. The CZMP offers an opportunity to plan for the decongesting of the coast. Other countries are doing that. We must start retreating from the sea and improving our natural safeguards against extreme sea-borne events,” said Pooja Kumar from the Chennai-based Coastal Resource Centre.
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