India’s East Coast vulnerable to accelerating sea-level rise

India’s eastern sea coast, which comprises states like Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu is more vulnerable to the after-effects of the sea level rise that has been observed in recent years, according to a document with the ministry of earth sciences, India.

According to the ministry, the sea level is rising faster and faster due to climate change, and is estimated at about 3.2 mm per year, or almost of 1 cm every three years. In the year 2007, the rise was estimated at around 2 mm per year.

“It is expected that east coast of India will be more vulnerable than the west coast, because of its low lying nature and hence the tendency of coastal flooding will rise if the sea level rises significantly,” the ministry said.

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India’s west coast, which comprises places like Kerala, Konkan coast, Mumbai, Gujarat and Goa, will also face the ill effects of rising sea levels.

According findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the mean sea level has risen by about 19 cm between 1901 and 2010.

“The satellite based linear trend during 1993-2011 is estimated to be 3.2±0.5mm/year,” the ministry said.

The major reason behind the rise in sea levels is ascertained to be the melting of polar and high-land permafrost, which leads to the release of water into the sea.

The melting, in turn, is ascertained to be the result of ‘global warming’ — the increase in average air temperature due to the release of greehouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane due to the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum.

The government of India is developing a plan factoring in the possibility of climate-change related earthquakes, cyclones, floods, storm surges, tsunami etc. for the coastal regions.

It has set up a Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) comprising four components, namely, (i) National Coastal Management Programme; (ii) ICZM-West Bengal; (iii) ICZM-Orissa; (iv) ICZM-Gujarat.

National component includes (a) Demarcation of hazard line for mapping the entire coastline of the mainland of the country; (b) A National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) has been established within the campus of Anna University, Chennai with its regional centres in each of the coastal States/Union territories to promote research and development in the area of coastal management including addressing issues of coastal communities.

India also has a National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) which outlines a strategy that aims to enable the country adapt to climate change and enhances the ecological sustainability of our development path.