orA research report produced by ISRO’s Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad revealed that Goa has lost about 15.2 hectares of coastal land to sand erosion in ten years. Interestingly, the land loss between 2004 and 2016 was about 28.8 hectares, with 13.6 hectares reported to have been reclaimed through shoreline accretion, a process where coastal sediments return as a visible part of the shoreline after subsidence.
Soil erosion is a problem that Goa has been witnessing for decades. About 20 percent of Goa’s 139 km coastline has been washed away due to rising sea levels. The National Center for Coastal Research, Chennai, which monitors India’s coastline using remote sensing data and GIS mapping techniques, is analyzing the data and has noted that around 27 km of Goa’s coastline has been damaged over the years.
The information is worrisome from Goa’s point of view as beaches are known to be the selling points of the state’s tourism. However, Goa has been grappling with sand erosion for the last few decades, and the level of erosion witnessed in the last decade indicates that the prevention measures and various measures taken to stop the seawater swelling have failed. Large stretches of coastline in areas such as Cavelosim, Benaulim, Colva, Majorda, Utorda, Velsao and Kerry are evidence of man’s failure against nature. Unfortunately, even the sand dunes in some areas were washed away and the sea water covered the new land.
It is a sobering reminder that we need to change our approach and approach to beach management and conservation and bank more on natural resources such as sand dunes that act as barriers and sentinels along the coast. Unfortunately, in the rush of development, no consideration has been given to salvage the situation and no initiative has been taken to identify and protect the many sand dunes that have suddenly been lost to oblivion.
It may be recalled that 46 lakh square meters of sand dunes were excluded from the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan when surveyed by the National Center for Sustainable Coastal Management, a Chennai-based research institute. However, only after a survey by the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority did the reality show that the sand dunes were missing from the plan. Subsequently, there was no rush to rectify the discrepancy.
Although there is no definite pattern of soil erosion, it has been established that control measures have failed. A classic case is at Kerry Beach, where the 1600-metre Gabon Seawall, built at a cost of Rs 4.2 crore, collapsed within three years. Tetrapod seawalls are concrete structures known as the best defense against ocean waves.
While Goa is witnessing an increase in coastal and environmental violations, the authorities must take this coastal tragedy seriously and maintain a balance between nature and development. Data indicates that 19 beaches in Goa face extensive soil erosion, hence the urgent need to revive beach ecosystems and ensure that beach vegetation is not degraded.
Unfortunately, while focusing on beach tourism, violations such as drilling of borewells and wetting holes are being overlooked, and checks on the carrying capacity of beaches are neglected. The authorities need to wake up to face the dangers of the sea.
Leave a Reply