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May 2013

Ambiguity in CRZ order leaves coastline under threat of development

The Union government has exposed the country's shores to rampant development by leaving ambiguous the definitions of the coastline's features. The fallout of this uncertainty has been confusion among states and renewed construction bids near shores.

Bunds killing mangroves in Ratnagiri

 MUMBAI: Bunds constructed over the years to divert water in Ratnagiri district are taking a heavy toll on mangroves. A case study of three locations-Jaigad, Bankot and Sakhartar creeks-shows that bunds constructed by the Kharland Development Board have destroyed mangroves spread over 200 hectares.

CAG hauls up Tamil Nadu for poor disaster management systems

 CHENNAI: If there is a natural calamity, say another tsunami, the state is just not equipped to handle it. A report of the Comptroller and Audit General of India, the premier auditing agency, which was tabled in the legislative assembly on Wednesday, said as much. "The emergency operation centres (EOCs) are not in a state of readiness...These EOCs, which are the nerve centres of early warning system, were non-functional and not in a state of operational readiness," said the CAG report. This was evident in the coastal districts of Cuddalore, Kanyakumari, Nagappatinam, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli, which were selected for the assessment. 

Risk of another Indian Ocean earthquake, tsunami said underestimated

Published: May 13, 2013 at 3:48 PM

SOUTHAMPTON, England, May 13 (UPI) -- The risk of Indian Ocean earthquakes and tsunamis similar to the 2004 Sumatra disaster is greater than previously thought, researchers say.

British and Canadian scientists said the risk in the western Indian Ocean of an earthquake-caused tsunami that could threaten the coastal areas of Pakistan, Iran, Oman, India and other countries has been underestimated.

Writing in the journal Geophysical Researcher Letters, the researchers say earthquakes similar in magnitude to the 2004 Sumatra earthquake could occur in an area beneath the Arabian Sea known as the Makran subduction zone.

Subduction zones are where two of the Earth's tectonic plates collide and one is pushed beneath the other, and earthquakes in those zones can cause significant movement of the seabed that displaces large volumes of water and can result in a tsunami.

The 2004 Sumatran earthquake triggered devastating tsunamis along the coasts of landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing over 230,000 people in flooded coastal communities.

While the Makran subduction zone has shown little earthquake activity since the late 1940s, it is a large zone that could initiate large-magnitude earthquakes, the researchers said.

New major port to boost Andhra's economic development

Hyderabad, May 13 (IANS) The proposed new major port at Dugarajapatnam in Andhra Pradesh is expected to further boost exports and imports from the east coast and give an impetus to the economic development of the state.

The project was cleared by the central cabinet last week.

The port, proposed on 5,000 acres, will be the second big port in Nellore district in south coastal Andhra. The port will be the second major port in Andhra Pradesh controlled by the central government after Visakhapatnam and overall the 14th port on the nearly 1,000-km coastline of the southern state.

It is one of the two major ports cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs as part of the government's look-east policy and the plans to triple the country's cargo-loading ability to 3.13 billion tonnes by 2020. The other major port will come up at Sagar in West Bengal.

The foundation stone for Rs.8,000 crore port at Dugarajapatnam in Vakadu 'mandal' or block is likely to be laid in August. It will have the capacity of 50 million tonnes per annum.

Member of Parliament from Tirupati Chinta Mohan is hopeful that 500 ancillary industries would come up in the area, providing employment to nearly 10 lakh people. He believes the total investment in the port would go up to Rs.25,000 crore by the time it is fully developed in various phases.

HC to hear PIL as test case on jurisdiction

, TNN | May 5, 2013, 05.06 PM IST

Mumbai: Bombay high court is slated to hear on Monday a public interest litigation as a test case to determine whether the grievances raised in it is related to the National Green Tribunal or should be heard by it.

The Importance of Mumbai’s Mangroves

The band of green that separates much of Mumbai’s coastline from the Arabian Sea is almost entirely submerged at high tide. When the sea retreats, the band becomes visible, in clumps of densely packed trees interspersed with narrow creeks.

Up close, the trees aren’t much to look at, with dark, waxy leaves and finger-like aerial roots that rise out of pools of saltwater. But these mangrove forests are home to several species of plants, animals and marine life. They act as a natural barrier against floods, protect the shoreline from soil erosion, and absorb almost eight times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than any other ecosystem.

Scientists believe that mangrove forests originated in Southeast Asia. They are now found on coasts throughout the world’s tropical and subtropical regions, but they are constantly under threat. They have been destroyed to make way for roads and buildings, for commercial aquaculture, and by marine pollution.

Mangroves line India’s eastern and western coasts. The Sundarbans, located on the delta of the River Ganges, is the world’s largest mangrove forest, covering parts of West Bengal and Bangladesh.

Mumbai, on the west coast of India, has between 35 and 45 square kilometers of mangrove forest. This is all that remains after almost 70% was destroyed in land reclamation projects, according to Debi Goenka, a Mumbai-based environmentalist.

Garbage has been dumped into these intertidal areas, upsetting the salinity of the seawater and choking off mangrove tree roots. The dumping is a technique to illegally reclaim the land, and subsequently build on it once the trees have been destroyed.

As a result, people tend to associate mangroves with filth and smell, says Mr. Goenka, who has been working to protect Mumbai’s mangroves since the 1980s.