A third of India’s coastline underwent erosion in 28 years, Bengal worst affected

27% of coastline expanded between 1990 and 2018, according to a report by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Tuesday 17 August 2021
A stone-packed seawall in Paradip, Odisha. A third India’s coastline underwent sea erosion in 28 years, according to a Union ministry report. Photo: Ashis Senapati

As much as 32 per cent of India’s coastline underwent sea erosion and 27 per cent of it expanded between 1990 and 2018, according to a recent technical report by the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences.

The West Bengal coastline has been particularly vulnerable: 60 per cent of the coastline underwent erosion during the period, followed by Puducherry (56 per cent); Kerala (41 per cent); Tamil Nadu (41 per cent); Andhra Pradesh (28 per cent); Gujarat including Daman and Diu (26 per cent); Odisha (26 per cent); Karnataka (24 per cent); Maharashtra (22 per cent); and Goa (19 per cent). 

Odisha coast expanded by 51 per cent, the report said.

This was followed by the coast of Andhra Pradesh, which expanded 48 per cent; Karnataka (26 per cent); West Bengal (25 per cent); Tamil Nadu (22 per cent); Kerala (21 per cent); Gujarat including Daman and Diu (20 per cent); Goa(14 per cent; Maharashtra (10 per cent) and  Puducherry (8 per cent). 

The country’s coastline is 6,631.53 kilometres long: 2,135.65 kilometres was subject to varying degrees of erosion and 1,760.06 km expanded during this period. Nearly 2,700 km of the coastline is stable.   

The information was tabled by Parshottam Rupala, Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal, Husbandry and Dairying in response to a question in the Lok Sabha August 10, 2021.

As many as 98 coastal pockets of the country have been facing sea erosion. Tamil Nadu has 26 coastal areas vulnerable to sea erosion, followed by West Bengal (16); Kerala (12); Maharashtra (8); Gujarat including Daman and Diu (8); Karnataka (7);  Andhra Pradesh (6); Odisha (5); Goa (3) and Puducherry (3), the minister said.

Some stretches of India’s shoreline are subject to varying degrees of erosion due to natural causes or anthropogenic activities. The coastal erosion does impact coastal communities residing in the erosion prone areas, including fishermen communities.

The NCCR, an attached office of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, monitors shoreline changes along the Indian coast. It has carried out a national shoreline change assessment mapping for Indian coast using 28 years of satellite data from 1990 to 2018 along nine coastal states and two Union territories (UT) to provide information for coastal management strategy, the minister added.

The National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and the Central Water Commission under the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti also undertake studies on shoreline changes / coastal erosion and their impact.

Planning and execution of anti-sea erosion measures are undertaken by the maritime states and UTs as per their own priority and from their own resources. The role of the Union government is technical, advisory and catalytic in nature, the minister said. 

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