Bhubaneswar: The warning is loud and clear! The entire coastline of Odisha—from Balasore to Ganjam—faces the risk of being gobbled up by rising sea levels by 2050. And the state government has rung the alarm bells for the need for a contingency plan.
The warning came in a study by Climate Central, a US-based think tank. It reported that sea levels were projected to rise by 2 to 7 per cent in the next three decades, devouring the coastal pockets of Odisha.
On its part, the state government responded that it will analyse the emerging situation and then make amendments to the action plan for climate change.
“It’s alarming, but the Odisha government is fully aware of it and taking the emerging future climate crisis very seriously. We will have a detailed study to identify the most vulnerable points. In terms of response, all other line departments are on board and will work on how to face the climate challenge,” Mona Sharma, secretary of Forest and Environment Department (the nodal department for climate action) was quoted as saying by Times of India.
Sharma, however, gave assurance that the government was seriously monitoring coastal erosion and “we have a robust plan for shoreline management”.
Besides Odisha, the impact of rising sea level is likely to be concentrated in Mumbai, Kolkata, coastal Gujarat, Chennai and Kochi, which may affect around 36 million people in the country, the study said.
Asked about the measures that the state was planning to tackle coastal erosion, Revenue and Disaster Management secretary and Special Relief Commissioner Pradeep Kumar Jena said that the steps taken have to be natural.
“Since Odisha has a long shoreline of 480 km, we cannot make an embankment. Besides, coastal embankments will create drainage problems. So we have to think of natural ways to check coastline erosion. We will study the situation further and prepare an inter-departmental action plan,” Jena added.
Rising sea levels have already devoured several coastal villages in Odisha and wiping every sign of habitation in those areas. According to a study by the National Centre for Coastal Research published in 2018, Odisha has lost 153.8 km (or 28%) of its coastline due to erosion by sea.