Centre nod for 643.5-cr plan to tackle sea level rise in Maha

Published on Jan 19, 2020 12:13 AM IST
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HT Image
By, Mumbai

The Central government has given the go-ahead to the Maharashtra Maritime Board’s (MMB) Rs 643.5-crore project to create artificial reefs, dunes and other defences against the rising sea level across four coastal districts in the state.

Maharashtra Sustainable Climate Resilient Costal Protection and Management Investment Program is a five-year long project and has received a nod from the Centre. HT has copies of letters sanctioning the project, from the NITI Ayog and the department of economic affairs under the Union finance ministry. “The final state cabinet nod is pending. Once it is approved, on-ground implementation will commence,” said Dr. Ramaswami N, chief executive officer, MMB. “The objective is for the state’s coastline to be more resilient and adaptive to the climate change impacts of increasing sea levels.”

Among the locations chosen by MMB are two in Mumbai (Marine Drive and Mahim); three in Sindhudurg (Devbaug, north and south Tarkarli); and one each in Raigad (Kashid) and Ratnagiri (Ganapatipule). Here, soft solutions in the form of artificial reefs (using geo-bags or alternative material) 100 to 300 metres offshore to counter the impact of strong tides will be implemented. Dunes will be set up towards the landward end of 20 beaches, with plantations on them acting as first lines of defence.

At Marine Drive, an offshore reef has been planned 200m from the coast. Beach nourishment across 1000m will be done towards the northern end of Girgaum Chowpatty for increased resistance during high tide. “Implementation for Marine Drive will be slightly delayed until we understand how the coastal road will affect this coastline,” said Jitendra Raisinghani, deputy director (coordination) MMB.

At Mahim Bay, an 800m groyne (a wall extending from the shore to the reef to check erosion) has been proposed near the Mithi River outlet. Simultaneous beach nourishment has been proposed up to Shivaji Park. “Using tetrapods or seawalls on the beach are immediate reactions, which would only lead to the beaches disappearing. This happened on Mahim beach. Using a scientific approach, we studied the level of erosion, wave currents, and susceptibility to sea level rise at each selected site, and proposed soft solutions,” said Raisinghani. “These concepts have already succeeded at Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, and along the Gold Coast in Brisbane, Australia.”

“The threat to Mumbai’s infrastructure is more than in other international cities, and developing barriers offshore is a much smarter move,” said BN Patil, former director, state environment department who developed the state’s climate change action policy.

MMB said it has taken into account the study published in November 2019 by researchers from the American science organisation Climate Central, which showed almost all of south Mumbai, large portions of the suburbs, parts of Navi Mumbai, Thane, all of Vasai-Virar and Mira Bhayander are likely to be inundated by 2050.

The state government confirmed this was the first major plan to address sea level rise in Maharashtra. “These are welcome actions proposed by MMB in line with state’s sustainable development goal 2030. Sea level rise threatens 16 major cities in India with Mumbai at critical risk. Prior preparedness will help safeguard infrastructure and people’s lives,” said Sanjay Sandanshiv, undersecretary (environment department).

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

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