The Hindu , 14 February 2006

Centre commissions coastal hazard zone mapping project

CHENNAI: The Government of India has commissioned a project to demarcate a hazard line along the entire coastal stretch taking into account factors such as waves, tides, sea level rise, flooding and elevation, Union Minister of Environment and Forests A. Raja said here on Monday.

Recommendation

The project was undertaken as per the recommendations of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee which had been set up to review the Coastal Regulation Zone notification after the tsunami, he said while inaugurating an international workshop on Approaches of ICZM Governance Mechanisms in SAARC Coastal Countries: Linking Governance to Science organised by the Institute for Ocean Management (IOM) of Anna University, UNESCO, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Germany-based Land Ocean Interaction in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ).

Necessity

A strong coastal zone management (CZM) system needed to be put in place to protect coastal communities and promote sustainable coastal development. Based on the hazard line mapping, necessary management strategies and policy interventions would be devised for developmental activities. Conservation of ecologically sensitive areas would be given top priority and a mapping project initiated for the same.

Along with developing bio shields, the new CZM policy to be adopted by the Centre would focus on community participation and management.

National programme

The Ministry had also initiated the preparation of a national programme of Action for Prevention of Marine and Coastal Pollution from Land Based Activities, with funding from the United Nations Environment Programme- GPA.

A report would be released in July to speed up the implementation of the plan, the Minister said. The Government of India, along with Anna University, was undertaking an assessment in two phases of the ecological damage caused by the tsunami, university Vice-Chancellor D. Viswanathan said.

Rapid assessment

In the first phase, a rapid assessment of ecological damage caused by the tsunami through satellite imagery was made and in the second phase, detailed studies and implementation programmes would be undertaken.

Study

The study had shown that the Andaman and Nicobar islands were the worst affected and about 4,000 hectares of mangroves had been lost and 8,000 hectares had been damaged. Coral reefs had been damaged by debris deposition and physical destruction, he said.

The Global Plan of Action of the Washington declaration, adopted by the international community in 1995, aimed at preventing marine degradation due to land-based activities and it was the responsibility of the national governments to implement the GPA with help from regional and international organisations, Anjan Datta, programme officer, UNEP-GPA said.

Plan of action

All maritime countries of the SAARC, including India, had developed a national plan of action. They would submit reports on the progress achieved, especially in policy and partnerships and these inputs would define the future direction of the GPA.

The governing council of the SAARC Environmental Programme had decided in 2003 to go in for regional cooperation and a common legislative framework and protocol would be the logical next step, he said.

R.Ramesh, Director, IOM and Martin Le Tissier, deputy executive director, LOICZ, Germany, were also present.