Column: Tackling Climate Change

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Growing awareness about environmental issues is a healthy sign. It is nice to see people taking part in events like the rally against climate change held in the state capital on Friday. Thanks to such campaigns the issue is now being discussed even in lower middle class drawing rooms.

Climate change is a phenomenon being witnessed across the world. Odisha is no exception. While the growing threat of sea erosion continues to be a cause of concern in the state there have been other alarming developments like the opening of new mouths in the world famous Chilika lake that straddles three districts and plays host to lakhs of migratory birds every winter.

Opening of new mouths, a development apparently triggered by increasing wave energy, a sign of climate change, could have serious repercussions for the waterbody which is an internationally acclaimed wetland. This could affect the salinity of the lake and could adversely impact the aquatic species that it sustains. It has the potential to change the character of species like fish and crabs.

Chilika being Asia’s largest brackish water lake fish and other marine species found in its waters have an entirely different taste and are treasured because of that. They enjoy a huge market within the country and abroad. Any significant change in the lake’s salinity level could have serious repercussions for these species.

Climate change could have other consequences for the lake like a fall in the number of the migratory birds visiting it during the winter. Since it is Chilika’s typical eco-system sustaining a variety of flora and fauna that attracts these birds to the lake any change in that could have a negative impact. A large number of bird species like to spend the winter in the lake area because it provides them an ideal climate and food which is not available in other parts of the world around that time of the year. So there is bound to be concern among nature and wildlife lovers about the changes that the lake has been witnessing.

The phenomenon of sea erosion visible in different parts of the state is also a reflection of climate change. With growing ferocity the sea has been eating into the land mass in parts of Puri, Kendrapara and Ganjam districts. The situation in alarming in villages like Satbhaya in Kendrapara from where people have been shifted to safer sites. The temple of the local deity was also moved to the new rehabilitation site sometime ago.

While the area close to the seashore in the holy town of Puri saw waves eroding part of the road running parallel to the beach a few years ago some villages in Ganjam are facing a serious threat of erosion. A few years ago the first major step towards fighting the problem of erosion was taken by building a geo-synthetic tube wall at Pentha village in Kendrapara district but the cost involved was so high that the experiment is unlikely to be repeated elsewhere. We need more cost-effective and sustainable models to fight this threat. That will be a small step towards tackling the challenge of climate change.

(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.)