In what environmentalists term an ecological blunder, sea walls are to be constructed along more shorelines across the state, including Mumbai.
The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), in its 86th meeting, gave a green nod for the construction of anti-sea erosion walls on nine shorelines in Mumbai, and 17 across Thane, Raigad and Sindhudurg districts.
A sea wall is seen as a solution to coastal erosion, which is a combination of natural processes such as strong winds, high waves and high tides, and human-induced activities along the shorelines.
“Anti-erosion sea walls are aimed at protecting people, livestock and agriculture fields from coastal erosion. They will also bring down the impact of cyclones in coastal areas,” said an official from the state public works department (PWD). The coastal engineering wing of the PWD is responsible for constructing the anti-sea erosion bunds.
Environmentalists, however, said building sea walls will get tidal waters to move landwards in another area. “Sea water will rush into areas where there has been no erosion and cause flooding. The sea must be allowed to come in and go out naturally,” said Stalin D of non-government organisation Vanashakti.
In addition to following the coastal regulation zone rules, the sea walls will be constructed on the landward side of the beach, causing no mangrove destruction and ensuring no obstruction of tidal movement.
“Sea wall as a uniform model along the Konkan coast is incorrect. For instance, mangrove growth can be the only natural protection in north Mumbai.
Interventions have to be site-specific,” said Shrikant Karlekar, dean, department of earth sciences, Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, Pune.