Thursday, May 13, 2010

Demarcation of Hazard Line along the Coastal Areas of India


By: Sinha

The Ministry of Environment & Forests and the Survey of India has jointly launched here today for the first time a very unique initiative to map the hazard line along 1500 kms. of India’s coast. At the ceremony to sign a Memorandum of Understanding today for demarcation of Hazard Line along the coastal areas of the country between the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Survey of India, Ministry of Science and Technology, Shri Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests (I/c) further said that his project will cost Rs. 135 crore. It will take 4 ½ years to complete. Almost 800 people will be involved in this exercise. He informed that the digital map will be available at the end of two year and the hard copy of the hazard line will be available in 4 ½ years. He termed this as an essential tool for coastal zone planning and management, which has emerged as a major area of concern. With Climate Change,particularly, with the rise in mean sea level, now proved beyond doubt that hazard line becomes extremely significant.

Shri Ramesh said this is an example how two departments work in a coordinated and cooperative manner in area of large national concern. There are many areas like this where department of Science & Technology with Ministry of Environment & Forests can cooperate. “We are working together in the area of glaciology, knowledge capacity in the area of Climate Change and many other areas. In this project, Survey of India will employ latest technology for mapping the hazard line. The hazard line will be of enormous benefit in protecting coastal population and resources from cyclones, tides, tsunami. USA, UK and European countires have this system. India is taking a giant step in assuring our coastal communities a new scientific tool for a more secure future,” he added.

Shri Prithviraj Chavan, Minister of State for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences(I/c) said two scientific ministries are coming together for major problems the country is facing for development of coastal areas. Survey of India will carry out high quality of work with latest technology, latest equipments and with satisfaction.The Minister added that 6 million people live in coastal zone and are affected by sea level changes. It is crucial now to understand and get real information about coast line levels.

Dr.K. Kasturirangan, Member, Planning Commission, mooted the idea of a dedicated satellite based on observation system to understand coastal processes. He said both the ministries are involved in Science & Technology for common goals and work in the areas like coastal zone management, climate change, glaciology, agriculture, biotechnology and many others.They are trying to bring arange of Science & Technology in the country involving Institute of Science, India Meteorological Department of Science & Technology,ISRO and others.

India has a vast coastline of about 7,500kms which includes the islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep. The coastline of the mainland accounts for around 5,500kms. The entire coastal area of the country not only harbours some of the most ecologically sensitive area but is also a place which experiencing natural hazards like the cyclones, storm surges, tidal waves etc. Along the coastal area there are about 6 million people residing, of which a large extent are the local communities which includes fisher families, agriculture families etc. These communities and the infrastructure of national importance are prone to these natural hazards. During the last few years the frequency of this natural hazard along the coastal areas have increased which is mainly attributed to the climate change.

To examine the coastal management approach in the country in a holistic manner, the Ministry had constituted an Expert Committee under the Chairmanship of Prof. M. S. Swaminathan in June, 2004. Based on which a draft Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) Notification, 2008 was issued. Large numbers of representations were received on the draft CMZ Notification, 2008. To review these comments, the Ministry constituted another Committee under the Chairmanship of Prof. M. S. Swaminathan in June, 2009. This Committee after examining the comments suggested that the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 1991 to continue and improvements to be incorporated in the existing CRZ Notification, 1991. One of the improvements suggested was to incorporate hazard mapping exercise for the purpose of protecting the life and property of local communities.

The methodology for demarcating the hazard line has been worked out in consultation with reputed national institute like Survey of India (SoI), Space Application Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, Department of Ocean Development, Chennai and Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS), Trivendrum. Further, to obtain international experience, Prof. John Pethick, Advisor to UK Government on coastal issues was also brought in to firm up the methodology. Based on the methodology which was recommended, the Ministry assigned SoI and SAC to delineate the hazard line on pilot scale in six areas of the coastline.Now, the Ministry proposes to demarcate the hazard line in entire coastal areas of the mainland.

SoI is not only a nodal agency for the map policy of the country, but is also the most reputed agency in the world in the areas of survey and mapping. The major parameter such as the tidal data and elevation data are available with SoI. Hence, this project is being assigned to SoI.

Under this project the hazard line for the mainland coast of India will be mapped and delineated as the landward composite of the coastal 100 year flood lines (which includes sea level rise impacts), and the 100 year predicted erosion lines. This will involve (i) surveys and preparation digital terrain model of 0.5m contour interval for the entire mainland coast; (ii) collection of historical tide gauge data and analyses to determine 100 year flood levels, (iii) analyses of maps and satellite imagery since 1967 to predict 100 year erosion line, (iv) preparation of composite maps, showing the hazard line on the digital terrain model, and (v) transfer of the hazard line to topographic maps for public dissemination. Once the hazard line is delineated, ground markers will be constructed. This is important as the revenue maps used for local planning purposes are not comparable to topographic maps. The total cost of the project is Rs.125crores. Within two years from the date of signing of MoU, SoI would compete the aerial photometry and thereafter would start generating maps with the hazard line. The total time period for the entire project is four and a half years.

Based on the recommendations of Prof. M. S. Swaminathan Committee, 2009, a pre-draft CRZ Notification, 2010 has been issued and is available on the website of the Ministry in nine local languages. Comments have been sought by 30th May, 2010, thereafter, the draft CRZ Notification, 2010 would be issued under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. In this pre-draft CRZ Notification, 2010, the hazard line mapping has been incorporated in the coastal zone management planning. The newly proposed infrastructure would be located at a safer location keeping in view the hazard line. Precautions would be taken such as hard engineering, soft engineering for protecting the dwelling units of local communities living within the hazard line. However, new dwelling units would be located on the landward side of the hazard line.

The above project is one of the components of the World Bank assisted Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project which has been approved by the Cabinet on 25.3.2010. The final approval from the World Bank is expected by mid of next month. The other major components of World Bank project are,-

(i) Development of National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management at Chennai Rs.166.28crs.

(ii) Pilot ICZM projects in Gujarat (Rs.298.34crs), Orissa (Rs.201.62crs) and West Bengal (Rs.300.26crs.