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Tsunami caused severe damage to ecological resources: Govt

Even as the scientific community debates the entry of saline water through a tsunami caused breach into the Adayar River and on what is the future impact of the land level rise in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Union environment ministry has confirmed that preliminary assessment of the affected regions indicates severe damage to various ecological resources.
PTI | By Nandini R Iyer and Rajnish Sharma, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 06, 2005 01:12 PM IST

Even as the scientific community debates the entry of saline water through a tsunami caused breach into the Adayar River and on what is the future impact of the land level rise in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Union environment ministry has confirmed that preliminary assessment of the affected regions indicates severe damage to various ecological resources.

Several experts who met at a special meeting convened by Union environment and forests secretary, Dr Pradipto Ghosh on Wednesday, agreed that there is considerable damage to some of India’s significant eco-resources including mangroves, corals, forests, and coastal wetlands.

Experts are also most worried about the apparent and in some cases, visible change to geo-morphological features like sand dunes and rock formations in addition to the ground water and bio-diversity changes which follow in the wake of such a disaster.

Government sources told HT that satellite images taken by the National Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad, on December 27 of the affected areas, clearly show a breach in the Chennai coastline as a result of which seawater entered the Adayar River and also covered the area in between.

Exact details of how much area was submerged — no matter how briefly — by the seawater are yet to be worked out. Experts, however, have opined that the salt water will certainly have an adverse impact on the soil in the area and to some extent on the groundwater tables in an already arid Chennai city.

Similarly, scientists are debating the impact of the physical shift in land and still trying to assess what the reduction in distance between the sea and land in the Andamans area signifies.

A senior official in the islands’ administration told HT that there were considerable changes in Port Blair, Bamboo Flat region and Car Nicobar.

“Even in low tide, the water sometimes crosses into the mainland. The topography has changed in Car Nicobar and the sea has entered by about 100 to 150 metres. New beaches have been created and some existing beaches have shrunk. This will not only affect the freshwater availability in the area but also create problems for navigation,” the official said. Officials and scientists alike are currently most worried about whether the seabed has risen in the area as a result of the natural disaster or conversely that some of the islands may have sunken in to some degree, he added.

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