As coastal erosion and high tides continue to hit Kerala, marine experts have warned that the state will witness more sea surges in coming years due to a rise in sea surface temperature. During the two recent cyclones—Tauktae and Yaas– coastal areas bore the maximum brunt in the state.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written a letter to PM Modi recently urging him to declare coastal erosion as a natural disaster helping to provide compensation to the affected from the national and state disaster response funds.
Speaking at a webinar organized by the premier marine body Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) on Saturday as part of World Environment Day, experts called for restoration of coastal vegetation giving more emphasis on mangrove forests, which they said will act as a bio-shield protecting lives of residents.
The webinar highlighted that the entire Kerala coast recently witnessed ‘storm surge’ during the two cyclones. They are of the view that such storm surges are likely to occur in the coast increasingly in coming years with rapid warming of waters in the Indian Ocean. Alarming winds triggered by cyclones help form storm surge in waters which results in high waves, sea erosion and flooding in the coastal hamlet. This was seen recently especially in coastal areas like Chellanam in Kochi, they said.
Kerala’s coastal region could be protected to a great extent through restoration of mangroves and other biodiversity in the region, said CMFRI Director Dr A Gopalakrishnan.
“Conservation of coastal biodiversity, which is in deterioration owing to many reasons including constructions, is the best long-term natural option for protecting the lives of coastal people from sea turbulence,” he said, adding that mangroves act as a model bio-shield.
The webinar, which was attended by leading experts who work on mangroves, recommended that restoration of coastal vegetation along the Kerala coast should be planned in a social forestry concept with public participation. Feasibility studies are required for identifying potential areas for mangrove forestation.
Dr N Vasudevan, Managing Director of Forest Development Corporation, Maharashtra; PP Pramod, Chief Conservator, Forest Eastern Circle and Custodian, Vested Forest, Kerala; Dr R Ramasubramanian, Director of Coastal Systems Research Programme at MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai; Dr P Kaladharan, Principal Scientist of CMFRI, Dr Grinson George, Senior Programme Specialist at SAARC, Dr K Vinod, Principal Scientist of CMFRI and Dr Ratheesh Kumar R, Scientist of CMFRI also spoke at the webinar.