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The TN Coastal line and its erosion

A recent study conducted by the National Assessment of Shoreline Changes along the Indian Coast reported that 422.94 km of the state’s coastline is eroding.

Chennai, April 1 (BPNS)

A recent study conducted by the National Assessment of Shoreline Changes along the Indian Coast reported that 422.94 km of the state’s coastline is eroding. This is 42.7% of the total coastline of the state. 332.69 km of the coastline is stable while 235.85 km of shoreline is accreting.

Tamil Nadu has the second largest coast line in the country after Gujarat and is 1076 km long.  The capital of the state, Chennai is in the northern most tip of the Tamil Nadu coastline while Kanniyakumari is at the southern tip. Tamil Nadu is the only state in India with territory on both eastern and western coastlines.

The Kanniyakumari area has a confluence of Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.

The coastline of Tamil Nadu passes through 14 districts of the state and it has 15 major ports and harbours, sandy beaches and estuaries.

It may be recalled that Tamil Nadu coastal line was a part of ancient silk route and had an important role in ancient spice trade with Roman and Greek traders of yore frequenting the place and entering into trade agreement with then Chola, Pandya and Chera kings.

With a coastal line stretching through 14 districts of the state, there is a huge fishermen population of around 15 lakh people who lives by the vocation of fishing.

While the state has a coastline of 1076 km and passing through 14 districts affecting lives of several people and a large number of people depending on fishing as a vocation, the shorelines have started eroding.

The study also reveals that of the 422.94 km of the coastline that is reported to be eroding, 16.6 km had high levels of erosion, 37.5 km has moderate erosion while 369.63 km is having low erosion.

The National Assessment of Shoreline changes have prepared 80 maps on the shoreline of Tamil Nadu. The National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) which is part of the Ministry of Environment and Forest in the study also said that before the government brings in polices and programmes, a thorough understanding of long term shoreline changes is required.

A senior scientist with  NCCR who participated in the study told IANS that long term shoreline changes must be studied in detail,  the behavior of shoreline changes as well as the extent of shoreline changes are also to be properly studied and discussed. He said that these studies are required before implementing any coastal protection scheme.

According to the NCCR study, in a period from 1990 to 2022, the state has lost 1802 hectares of land due to erosion. Of this Ramanathapuram district is the worst affected losing 413.37 hectares followed by Nagapattinam with 283.69 hectares and Kancheepuram with 186.06 hectares. Interestingly the capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai lost only 5.03 hectares of land due to erosion.

The projected sea- level changes is being taken seriously by the policy makers of Tamil Nadu and the changes in the sea is being monitored closely by scientists in the state. The changes that is happening in seas due to climate changes is also closely studied by the policy makers of the Tamil Nadu government.

Tamil Nadu Water Works department is in the process of collecting field data and analyzing the same in detail on a regular basis. The state is also comparing new and old satellite images to understand the gravity of erosion. The government is also using GIS as a tool to map the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu.

Sources in the NCCR told BPNS that the Tsunami of 2004 December has contributed to the erosion along the Tamil Nadu coast.

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