Coastline, beaches: India
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
2019: all- India; Kerala
Litter on India’s beaches during a sample period in 2019.
The 2019 NCCR study
Litter on Kerala’s beaches during a sample period in 2019
The beaches surveyed in Kerala
CHENNAI: Kerala’s sandy beaches and calm backwaters might be reeling under the pressure of too much tourism as 9,519kg of litter was collected from five beaches in just two hours during a coastal clean-up activity, making the coast the mostpolluted one in the country. Volunteers, who were part of the activity conducted by MoES lab National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) in September, collected 35 tonnes (2.39 lakh pieces of waste) across 34 beaches in India. Around 6,804kg of litter was collected from seven beaches in Tamil Nadu and 5,930kg from three beaches in Maharashtra. Odisha, where 478.2kg of garbage was collected from four beaches, had the leastpolluted coastline.
NCCR researchers said half of the litter collected was plastic, mostly dropped by beach-goers, while a portion of it was washed ashore. While the rest was waste from fishing activity along the coast and household items disposed in waterbodies linking the sea, around 20% was glass bottles.
“The major source of litter at 22 beaches is tourism and recreational activities. Plastic and glass were the major type. Plastic waste were cups and bottles, bags, bottle caps and food wrapper,” said the NCCR report. Plastic items may break down to microplastics (less than 5mm) during the weathering process. When this is swept into the sea, microplastics enter the marine food chain, settling in the gut and tissues of fish that are eventually consumed by humans.
“Other types of litter were glass bottles, footwear, tyres, gloves, organic waste, clothes, flowers and coconuts used for religious purposes,” said the report.
NCCR director MV Ramana Murthy said the clean-up activity was a step in tracking beach pollution trends which will support the framing of an anti-marine litter policy. It includes studying the type and quantity of litter generated on land, the quantity going to the coast and washed ashore and its impact on the ecosystem. “We will repeat this activity across the coast to collect more data that will equip us to speak about coastal pollution quantitatively,” he said. Of the 9.5tonnes collected in Kerala, around 8,044kg was picked up in Kozhikode south beach, which included 3,300kg of plastic bags. While tourism is a major source of litter, researchers said, the beach is polluted as streams join the sea. Wastes disposed in these streams reach the sea and some get pushed to the coast.
In Maharashtra, the main source of pollution was untreated sewage, industrial effluents and wastes from fish landing centres. “Beaches in big cities with larger population have more garbage. While there are regular cleaning efforts in Goa, beaches in states like Odisha are least polluted,” it said.
For researchers, the study also gave a glimpse of human behaviour. For instance, glass bottles, which could be liquor bottles, were picked up in several beaches. Around 60% of the 25kg waste (the least among the 34 beaches) collected at Kazhakkoottams Perumathura beach was liquor bottles.
Researchers said the study had several unanswered questions which they plan to pursue in future.
Thirty-four Indian beaches have together produced 35 tonnes of waste in a coastal cleanup operation conducted by professionals towards the end of last year. The litter recovered mostly comprised plastic and glass, paper, rubber and general waste left behind by tourists and local populace.
Table-topper Kerala’s sandy beaches and pristine backwaters are probably reeling under the weight of hectic tourism activity, as 9,519kg of litter, the highest in the country, was collected across its five beaches in two hours by volunteers, making it the most polluted coast in the country.
Volunteers, who were part of the operation conducted by Ministry of Earth Sciences lab National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) in September 2019, picked up 35 tonnes or 2.39 lakh pieces of litter across 34 beaches. Around 6,804kg of litter was collected on six beaches of Tamil Nadu, the runner-up, while 5,930kg of waste came from three beaches of Maharashtra. Odisha, where 478kg of litter was collected on four beaches, has the least polluted coastline.
NCCR researchers said about half of the 35-tonne litter was plastic dumped by beach-goers looking for a whiff of fresh air. While the remaining trash comprised leavings of fishing activity and household items disposed in the sea, 20% of the waste was glass bottles.
“The major source of litter on 22 beaches is tourism and recreational activity. Plastic waste such as cups, bottles, bags, bottle caps and food wrappers were found,” said the NCCR report. Plastic items left on the beach generally break down into microplastics (less than 5mm) during the weathering process. When this is swept out to sea, microplastics enter the marine food chain and settle in the gut of fish eventually consumed by humans. “Other types of litter picked up were glass bottles, footwear, tyres, gloves, organic waste, clothes, and items such as flowers and coconuts used for religious purposes,” the report added.
NCCR director M V Ramana Murthy said the cleanup activity was a step in tracking beach pollution trends which will support framing an anti-marine litter policy. It includes studying the type and quantity of trash generated on land, the quantity reaching the coast, and its impact on the ecosystem. “We will repeat this coastal cleanup activity to collect more data to equip us to speak about coastal pollution quantitatively,” he said.
Of the 9.5tonnes collected in Kerala, around 8,044kg was picked up from Kozhikode south beach, which included 3,300kg of plastic bags. While tourism is a major source of litter, researchers said the beach in Kozhikode is polluted as small streams are directly linked to the sea.
In Maharashtra, the main sources of pollution were untreated sewage, industrial effluents and fish waste generated at fish landing centres. “Big cities with large populations have more garbage on their beaches... beaches in Odisha are the least polluted,” the report said.
For researchers, besides pollution, the study provided a glimpse of human behaviour. For instance, glass bottles, which could be liquor bottles, were picked up in several beaches including Tamil Nadu’s temple town Rameswaram. About 60% of the 25kg waste, the least among the 34 beaches, collected in Kerala at Kazhakuttom Perumathura beach was liquor bottles. “Glass bottles were found in Gujarat beaches too,” an NCCR researcher said. “In our ongoing study on fish, we have found pieces that disintegrated from fishing nets.”
Researchers said the study has left several unanswered questions which they have planned to pursue in future studies.
Garbage on Indian beaches: the extent of the problem, and types of waste
Coastal regulation zone (CRZ)
HC on shacks on beaches/ 2019
Resolving an over two-decade-old issue concerning the validity of shacks on beaches after the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) notification was enforced in the state, the high court of Bombay at Goa has held that temporary erections comprising bamboo and palm leaves are not constructions. As such, no ecological damage is caused due to beach shacks, it has noted, thereby ending the ongoing debate in the state whether a shack is a construction.
The order will have a significant impact on scores of cases filed before adjudicating authorities, seeking that shacks, which were claimed to be constructions on beaches, be demolished.
Specifying the meaning of construction, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Mahesh Sonak on October 10 noted that the law prohibiting construction spoke of cement, brick and mortar structures having permanency, and that it could not embrace temporary erections using bamboo and palm leaves. “Generically, a construction is a cement, mortar and brick structure having permanency. Shacks are not constructed but are erected,” the HC observed.
The case pertains to a petition filed by members of the Anjuna village panchayat, who stated that 40 shops had been constructed within 200 metres of the high tide line (HTL) in a nodevelopment zone (NDZ) of the village. The Goa government will issue new licences for erecting shacks through a lottery system from October 17 onwards.
Blue Flag’ certification
Eight Indian beaches have got the coveted ‘Blue Flag’ certification — an international ecolevel tag which is one of the world’s most recognised awards for clean, safe and environment-friendly beaches, marinas and sustainable boating tourism operators.
The beaches which have got the tag are Shivrajpur (Dwarka, Gujarat), Ghoghla (Diu), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden Beach (Puri, Odisha) and Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands).
Blue Flag beaches are considered the world’s cleanest beaches. In order to qualify, 33 stringent criteria relating to environmental, bathing water quality, educational, safety, services and accessibility standards must be met by the beaches.
“It is an outstanding feat considering that no ‘Blue Flag’ nation has ever been awarded for eight beaches in a single attempt,” said Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar while announcing the decision of the international jury. He said, “This is also a global recognition of India’s conservation and sustainable development efforts… India is also the first country in the Asia-Pacific region which has achieved this feat in just about two years’ time.”
Union environment ministry had last month sent the list of these eight beaches to the international jury, seeking Blue Flag certification which is accorded by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. The jury, which takes a final call on this certification, comprises eminent members from the UN Environment Programme, World Tourism Organisation, FEE and IUCN.
Over 4,600 beaches, marinas and boats from around 50 countries have, so far, got the Blue Flag certification. Spain has the highest number of Blue Flag tagged sites. India, which started working on getting the tag in 2018, has plans to expand the network of Blue Flag certification to 100 such beaches in the country in the next five years.
In order to achieve this goal, the environment ministry had last month launched India’s own eco-label “BEAMS” (Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services) under its Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) project. Besides the Blue Flag tag for its eight beaches, India has also been awarded a third prize by the jury under the “International Best Practices” for pollution control in coastal regions. The certification is considered important for tourism as this tag attracts both domestic and international tourists to these beaches.
2021: Kovalam, Eden
New Delhi [India], September 22 (ANI): Two more beaches in India have been awarded 'Blue Flag' certification, an international eco-level tag, taking the total number of such beaches in the country to 10, the Environment Ministry said.
The two beaches to receive the certification this year are Kovalam in Tamil Nadu and Eden in Puducherry, the ministry said.
Foundation for Environment Education in Denmark (FEE) which accords the globally recognized eco-label - Blue Flag certification, has also given re-certification for eight nominated beaches Shivrajpur- Gujarat, Ghoghla-Diu, Kasarkod and Padubidri-Karnataka, Kappad-Kerala, Rushikonda- Andhra Pradesh, Golden-Odisha and Radhanagar- Andaman and Nicobar, which were awarded the Blue Flag certificate last year.
These eight beaches got the Blue Flag certification on October 6 last year.
Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav took to Twitter to express happiness and congratulated everyone stating that it is another milestone in India's journey towards a Clean and Green India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
'Happy to announce India now has 10 International Blue Flag beaches with the addition of Kovalam and Eden beaches this year and recertification for 8 beaches which got the tag in 2020. Another milestone in our journey towards a clean and green India led by PM @NarendraModi Ji," Yadav tweeted.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in its pursuit of "Sustainable Development" of the coastal regions of India embarked upon a highly acclaimed and flagship program Beach Environment and Aesthetics Management Services (BEAMS) which is one of the initiatives under the ICZM approach that the MoEF&CC has undertaken for the sustainable development of coastal regions of India, with a prime objective to protect and conserve the pristine coastal and marine ecosystems through holistic management of the resources.
This was aimed at achieving the globally recognized and coveted International eco-label "Blue Flag", accorded by the International Jury comprising of members from IUCN, UNWTO, UNEP and UNESCO. FEE Denmark conducts regular monitoring and audits for strict compliance with the 33 criteria at all times. A waving "Blue Flag" is an indication of 100 per cent compliance to these 33 stringent criteria and sound health of the beach.
The Ministry is further committed to develop and deliver 100 more beaches under its ICZM initiative in the ensuing 5 years of the Ministry's vision agenda, the ministry said.
Odisha, As in 2019
Wading through mulchy sand in Barahapur village in Odisha, Jagannath Behera comes to an abrupt halt and points to ruins of abandoned and partially submerged houses. “That’s where my land used to be. Thirty years ago, the sea was far away. But every year, it is getting closer,” the 60-year-old said, adding that rising sea levels started to sink their hamlet in the 1990s and, before long, had swallowed several homes and farmlands.
Barahapur is not an exception. Sea erosion is destroying many coastal towns in Odisha. In Satabhaya gram panchayat alone, where Barahapur village is located, 3,000 people have been evacuated to safer areas in the past two decades. A quick look at Google Maps shows a part of Satabhaya gram panchayat in the sea. What it doesn’t show is that there are still several people living a precarious life on the edge of the coast.
Odisha’s coast — home to the largest-known nesting site of the Olive Ridley sea turtle and also Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon — is losing several metres of coastline every year. Between 1990 and 2016, Odisha lost 28% of its 550-km coastline, according to a 2018 study by the National Centre for Coastal Research, Chennai. Two of the six coastal districts of the state bore the brunt — Kendrapada and Jagatsinghpur, respectively, lost 31 km and 14.5 km of their coastline during the study period, resulting in thousands being displaced.
Among these environmental refugees is a local deity — Maa Panchaburahi — who was shifted to a new temple in Bagapatia, 10 km away, along with 571 residents of Satabhaya gram panchayat who were rehabilitated by the government between 2008 and 2017. About 120 families still remain in the panchayat area, fighting a losing battle against the sea.
Drinking water is fast becoming scarce as the sea has come dangerously close to two tube wells in Satabhaya. One of the tube wells that initially stood one metre above the ground now towers at six metres as the land around has eroded. Locals have to use a rope to draw water from it. “The other tube well was lost to sand two months ago,” said Janaki Lenka. Around the same time, a tidal surge washed away her home. But her family is reluctant to move. Prafulla, Janaki’s husband, who owns 20 buffaloes and earns his living by delivering milk, said the rehabilitation site in Bagapatia has no fields where his cattle can graze. “I make Rs 10,000 every month selling buffalo milk to the government-run milk federation. If there are no grazing pastures for my animals, I can’t move.”
A dangerous mix of rising sea levels due to climate change, felling of mangrove forests for construction and infrastructure-building too close to the sea is leading to erosion. Kakani Nageswar Rao, emeritus professor in the department of geo-engineering at Andhra University said that until the 1960s, the area of the Satabhaya gram panchayat was covered with dense mangrove forests. “To build the port at Paradip, the government cleared acres of mangrove forests. Then to protect the port from the onslaught of the sea, the government built a sea wall. As a result, the waters moved towards Satabhaya,” explained Rao.
A number of mighty rivers enter the Bay of Bengal on the east coast, bringing with them silt and leading to accretion (sedimentation) along the coast. The east coast, over time, was shaped by a balance of accretion and erosion. However, largescale construction of dams in the 1960s decreased the amount of silt being carried by these rivers to the river mouth. With a decrease in sedimentation, the rates of erosion went up. Cyclones also played a part, eating into the landmass faster and many believe the Super Cyclone in 1999 spelt the end of Satabhaya.
Authorities in Odisha said they have taken various measures to counter the threat. A 600m-long geo-synthetic sea wall was built in Kendrapada’s Pentha village three years ago to minimise sea erosion due to high tides. Plans are afoot to quickly rehabilitate the remaining families in Satabhaya, said Kendrapada collector Samarth Verma.
Kanhu Charan Dhir, additional district magistrate of Jagatsinghpur’s Paradip municipal town, said a wall is planned in Siali village in the district where a government guest house built 2km from the sea over a decade ago is now touching the waters.
WHY ODISHA'S COAST IS IMPORTANT
Asia's largest brackish water lagoon located along state's coast
World's largest-known nesting site of Olive Ridley turtles located along state's coast
Bhitarkanika, the subcontinent's second-largest mangrove formation, after the Sundarbans is located on the coast
Indian coastline under threat
The Times of India, Aug 05 2015
Cash-strapped authorities put coastline under threat
Construction, erosion top worries: Panel
India's 7500 km long coast line, home to over 171 mil lion people, is under threat and the government machinery meant to manage it is in disarray . The coastal zone management authorities (CZMA 's) at the national and state level are orphaned bodies with no financial support, except what they raise by charging fees from those wanting project clearance. They are packed with ex-officio bureaucrats from various departments with limited expertise.Their meetings are spent in discussing project applications. They clear 80% of projects but never go back to monitor or check violations. They don't have maps with requisite details. They have not even marked out the high tide line.
These are the shocking findings of a report prepared by a group of environmental activists cum experts from the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi and the Namati Environmental Justice Program. The authors interviewed sitting and ex-members of the CZMAs, analysed minutes of 350 meetings of the CZMAs and looked at high court and National Green Tribunal cases over the years.
By a 1991 government notification, the coast is divided into four zones -one stretches over the water while three stretch landwards going up to 500 meters from high tide level. Multiple, contesting us es are vying for a piece of the coastindustries, real estate, tourism, livelihoods, mining and conservation, says Meenakshi Kapoor, one of the researchers.
“There are threats from unregulated construction, discharge of untreated effluents and sewage, destruction of mangroves, deterioration of critical ecosystems such as estuaries, saltpans, coral reefs, etc and coastal erosion,“ she said.
In most coastal Indian cities, poorer sections are forced to live in slums on the coast. Municipal authorities allow destruction of natural drainage and wetlands, as in Mumbai, causing flooding.Over 90% of sewage pouring into the sea from 87 big cities is untreated.
It was to regulate and monitor these threats that the coastal zones were notified and CZMAs were set up. On paper there are strict rules about where you can build a hotel or an ice factory , and where you can have fish processing units or net mending yards. And, the CZMAs are supposed to keep a tight watch. But the reality is reverse.
The report narrates in harrowing detail their analysis of 350 meeting minutes of national and state CZMAs. The NCZMA discussed 157 agenda items between 2003 and 2013 of which 73 related to reclassifying a piece of the coast so that it can be used differently . Just 12 cases of violations and just one case of reviewing what the state CZMAs were doing was discussed.
The state CZMAs were initially given Rs 5 lakh each by the central environment ministry . After that they have been left to their own de vices till 2011 when state governments were asked to fund them. Meanwhile each state CZMA has hammered out its own way of raising funds.
In Goa, if you want to set up a commercial institution, you apply to the Goa CZMA and pay Rs 10,000 fees. For setting up anything worth upto Rs 5 crore, you pay processing fees of Rs 25,000 in Gujarat, Rs 1 lakh in Maharashtra or just Rs 10,000 in West Bengal. Since the money is coming from project proposals, maximum time is spent by the state bodies discussing them. In Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Odisha, over 90% of the agenda items were project proposals.
In other states, this frequency was between 60 to 80%, with only Goa having 46% frequency , according to analysis of meeting minutes between 2010 and 2013.
The report recommends an overhaul with better definition of roles and powers, more resources, participatory planning, bringing in transparency , and improving monitoring and compliance. Otherwise, this bureaucratic mess will be unable to save India's coasts.
Average sea level rise of 1.7mm/year
Sea levels along the Indian coast have risen by 8.5 cm during the past 50 years with an average increase of 1.7 mm per year, said the government in Rajya Sabha as it shared data from 10 major ports across the country in response to a Parliament question.
Compared to global data, the annual average seal level rise along Indian coast is almost half at present. UN’s latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report shows that sea level globally is rising at the rate of 3.6 mm per year and “accelerating”.
The data, collected at 10 Indian ports, indicates sea levels at Diamond Harbour in West Bengal recorded highest annual average increase (5.16 mm/year) followed by Kandla (3.18m/year) in Gujarat, Haldia (2.89 mm/year) in West Bengal, Port Blair (2.2 mm/year) in Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Okha (1.5 mm/year) in Gujarat. These annual average figures were not taken during the same period or for same duration at all ports. Even though the data may not be exactly comparable, but experts say they give a fair idea of sea level rise as figures were recorded over a longer period ranging from 28 years to 128 years.
The government in its response, said the rate of increase of sea level can’t be attributed to climate change “with certainty” as no long term data on land subsidence or emergence are available for these locations. Junior environment minister, Babul Supriyo, told Rajya Sabha that the highest rise of sea level increase at Diamond Harbour was also due to large-scale land subsidence seen happening there. The same may apply to Kandla, Haldia and Port Blair, he said. The figures, cited by him, were taken from ministry of earth sciences.
COASTLINES LOST DUE TO SOIL EROSION
Almost one-third of India’s 6,632km coastline was lost to soil erosion between 1990 and 2016
In the past three decades, east coast was the worst affected due to cyclonic activities from Bay of Bengal
West Bengal (63%), Puducherry (57%), Kerala (45%), Tamil Nadu (41%) most suspectible to erosion
Source: National Assessment of Shoreline Changes along Indian coast