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THE DISAPPEARIING INDIAN'S COASTLINE

A study conducted recently by the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa confirmed that 23 per cent of India's shoreline is eroded with four states - Maharashtra, Orissa, Karnataka and Kerala - the worst affected.
  • "We are concerned at the erosion caused by man-made activities. That's why we have just started a new study to see exactly what has happened over the past 30 years," says Vikas Murali, marine scientist with the Institute.
  • In Kerala, where Kovalam Beach is popular with foreigners, environmentalists say over 65 per cent of the 560 km coast is now lined with stone walls instead of sand.
  • India's sandy beaches in such tourist spots as Kerala and Pondicherry, fringed with swaying coconut palms and dotted with fishing villages, have been traditionally popular with holiday-goers.
  • But environmentalists have warned that as India's economy continues to expand the country's beaches may be shrinking.
  • They estimate that almost half the beaches have disappeared and the other half will vanish in a decade or two.
  • Across India's 6,000km coastline, the erection of small ports is playing havoc with the natural movement of the sand, inexorably eroding the beaches to a narrow strip or nothing at all – the waves crash right up against the land.
  • The beach at Pondicherry in the east has shrunk to a slender strip.
  • With no beach to stop the ocean bursting onto hamlets, villages and towns, the local authorities build high stone walls to keep the waves at bay.
  • These sea walls remove fishermen's easy access to the sea. To take their boats out, they have to scale the boulders.
  • "As the beaches vanish, more stone walls will come up. We will end up with a wall along the entire coast that will be longer than the Great Wall of China," warns Banerjee,an engineer and former businessman.
  • A study conducted recently by the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa confirmed that 23 per cent of India's shoreline is eroded with four states - Maharashtra, Orissa, Karnataka and Kerala the worst affected.
  • In the 2004 tsunami 8,000 people died when the first waves hit Pondicherry and the coast further south.
  • Rukhmini, a 50-year-old fisherman's wife in Pondicherry, says that the sea is just 10 metres away from her hut."In five years time, the water will be rushing into the first homes in my hamlet," she warns."If there is a tsunami, we won't stand a chance."
Source: The Agencies
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