Op-Ed: Will Coastal Erosion Intensify In the Aftermath of Fani?

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: The phenomenon of coastal erosion is likely to intensify in the state in the wake of cyclone Fani with sea turbulence expected to increase manifold. Higher wave energy would mean greater erosion of land mass along the coast.

As it is the sea has been eating into the land in several areas along the state’s coastline with mounting anxiety about the security of local residents. Following a string of experiments the state government was finally able to check sea erosion at Pentha in Kendrapara district by erecting a geo-tube wall ( sand-filled tubes made of permeable fabrics) a few years ago. But the experiment is unlikely to be repeated elsewhere because of its prohibitive cost.

The wall at Pentha village, the first of its kind in the state, came up at a cost of around Rs.32.95 crore which makes it an unsustainable model for a poor state like Odisha where the scale of erosion is quite high. “ We have a far too long coast line of which a large part is facing erosion. We should think of cheaper options. Our experts should start working on a more financially viable model,” opined a retired technocrat who was once associated with the project to check coastal erosion in the state.

Besides, geo-tube technology is not always fool-proof. There have been instances of geo-tubes bursting open under pressure. It happened once even during the construction of the geo-tube wall at Pentha.

While things improved at Pentha following the construction of the geo-tube wall the situation remains grave at several other places including the Satbhaya village in Kendrapara, one of the most vulnerable districts in the state as far as coastal erosion is concerned. The situation at Satbhaya turned so bad sometime ago that local residents had to be relocated to a new place alongwith their local deity, Panchuvarahi.

Sea waves had also played havoc in Puri a few years ago, breaching the road running along the town’s famous beach. Authorities had sought to contain the damage by dumping boulders and sandbags at the spots where erosion was severe. Sea waves have also been eating into the land mass at several places in Ganjam district. Local fishing community leaders like K. Alleya have raised the issue several times with the authorities but the latter appear just as helpless as the hapless victims.

Statistics suggest that more than 36 per cent of the state’s 480 km coastline is facing the threat of erosion, the phenomenon having acquired threatening proportions at places like Satbhaya in Kendrapara district. While waves have been eroding the land mass at several places along the Puri-Konark marine drive areas like Sanaarjapalli in Ganjam have been affected.

If sea wave energy actually multiplies in the wake of cyclone Fani experts will have to come up with a solution expeditiously because it is invariably the poor who are at the receiving end of the disastrous impact of this phenomenon. The state must fight the war against coastal erosion with all its might.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)