Sabyasachi Kundu

Puri/Ganjam: Over the years, Odisha has witnessed drastic change in shorelines in several parts of the State due to tidal waves. Be it the case of Kendrapara's Satabhaya or Ersama in Jagatsinghpur district, rising sea level and high tides have always posed a serious threat for the coastal communities and tourism.

Recently, such extreme weather events have been witnessed in Puri and Gopalpur of Ganjam district.

Residents of several areas like Chaitanya chhak, Swargadwar, Baliapanda and City Road along the 7 km-long coastline in Puri are living under the threat of sea erosion. With passing of every year, as the distance between the sea and the villages is continuously reducing, the change in the weather events has forced once flourishing business establishments to move elsewhere.

In the last one week, a huge portion of sea beach in Puri has been washed away under the impact of high tidal waves. "The high tide is eroding the seashore and tidal flooding has caused 150 meter erosion in the area within a week," said a vendor at Puri sea beach.

Not only locals, but tourists who visit the beach in Puri have expressed shock at the extent of sea level rise and tidal flooding engulfing large parts of the beach.

"Over the years of my visit to the pilgrim town, I have been witnessing significant changes in the beach. When I compare the present situation and that which was 10 years ago, I find that the sea shorelines have moved significantly," said a tourist.

Gopalpur which is one of the iconic beaches in the State is increasingly witnessing such sea level rise and tidal flooding. Being one of the famous tourist destinations, the change in climate at these beach towns has now posed serious threat to the tourism of the State.

Even though the State government has been claiming of preparing a holistic plan to save the destruction of sea beaches, experts have pointed out lack of vegetation along the beach is also a cause of the sea level rise.

Geologist Debanand Beura said Odisha government should take adequate steps in consultation with experts to stop soil erosion.