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Dept. of Geology, Univ. of Kerala
Kariavattom 695 581.


(Grant No. 21-3-89-RE)
June, 1992.

The sea level rise is due to green house effect or green house warming is considered as
one the foremost environmental threats facing mankind in the 21st century. Although, opinion
differs on the very question of green house warming and its cardinal consequence viz., sea level
rise, the scientific community is pretty much unanimous about the long term consequences of
deforestation and pollution or population explosion.
There exists a large degree of disagreement regarding the quanta of sea level rise.
Different rates as well as extents are therefore used in scenario building tasks to analyze the
extent of less consequent on erosion of beach material, inundation and destruction of installations
and investments by the citizens, private industry and Government agencies on the coastal low
lands of the littoral nations. Further, modification of wetlands and salination of coastal aquifers are
potential dangers of sea level rise.
Despite the uncertainties clouding the question of SLR due to GHE, majority opinion is in
favour of preparing ourselves to the potential dangers, risks and losses thereof of a disaster like
sea level rise. Having a knowledge of some sort or a forecast of the near distant of midterm future
is the hall mark of any intelligent, modern society run on scientific methods because such prior
knowledge is helpful in reducing the degree and magnitude of risks from various natural or man
made causes.
Therefore, the Dept. of Environment and Forests ordered a first approximation study of
the implications of SLR due to GHE to the various littoral states of the Union of the India with
Prof. V. Asthana, Jawahar Lal Nehru University as the national coordinator.
The study that we initiated in Kerala with financial support of the Dept. of Environment,
embodies mostly a survey research and the results were presented in three six monthly reports
submitted to the DOE&F. This last and final report deals among other things with the economic
loss, assuming that direct damage will be faced only by the land adjacent to permeable shoreline,
and while reckoning the shoreline length, the 93km of cliffed shoreline was dropped from the
We have also added a section by way of recommendations on the measure to be
adopted to lessen the burden imposed on the economy by the SLR. For example, we strongly
recommend the suspension of indiscriminate construction of sea walls (with the exception of the
sites of gun batteries of the Cochin Naval Base or the groins of the fishing harbors and the like).
This corrective measure toward off cyclical erosion of the beaches is no longer cost
effective as not only the beaches rebuild after the erosional phase long the same sites, but thecus
of erosion also shifts from time to time leaving the very expensive sea walls high and dry or
drowned by the waves.
We also recommend that in future, the funds earmarked for seawall construction should
be used for construction of specially designed multi-storey multi-family houses (apartments) for
the settlers along the back beach, who routinely are exposed to the erosional threat and
consequent material and property loss. The state exchanger then will have to release free ration
and other welfare measures to these displaced people. For example, the investment of about Rs.
0.75 million for a kilometer of seawall people who are offered protection by the stone monster, i.e.
the sea wall.
We also admit that even with our efforts over a period of 30 months, we have not been
able to cover the entire terms of reference proposed by Dept. of Environment and Forests,
Govt. of India when the projects were approved by the latter. However, we feel confident in that
most of the important issues in respect of sea level rise are adequately answered at a first
approximation level.
For example, though water samples were collected over a long period of 12 months, we
could not pay sufficient attention to use the data in predicting the extent of salination due to seal
level rise. Throughout the study we were handicapped by the non-availability of readily available
data, or the ambivalence of the agencies of the Departments of the state government to the
question of SLR.
We are very sure of achieving better results covering wider and larger aspects of SLR, if
a new research program for refinement of the results of this study is approved for implementation.
We have taken great pains to make sure that the numbers and estimates used in this
report are realistic, true and valid. There might be disagreement on the estimates of current
prices we have used for the various types of resources.
Finally, we wish to state that we are solely responsible for the lapses in this report.
University of Kerala Thrivikramji, K. P.
Kariavattom, 695 581 Anirudhan, S.
June, 1992.

We thank the Dept. of Environment, Govt. of India, New Delhi, for choosing us to
undertake this important and futuristic study pertaining to the state of Kerala. Dr. J. R. Bhatt, SD,
Dept. of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India and Prof. V. Asthana, National Coordinator of
sea level rise research projects steadily persuaded us to further our efforts in answering several
questions posed by the phenomenon of Sea level rise due to Green House Effect. Prof. Perr
Brunn, the renowned coastal engineer (USA) had whole heatedly helped and encouraged us in
many respects during the course of this study.
The administration of the University of Kerala offered timely resisitance for
implementation of the project by releasing grant-in-aid received from time to time. Further, the
University maintained its stance of supporting the sponsored research programs implemented by
the faculty.
As usual, our colleagues in the Dept. of Geology were constructively disposed in respect
of the project, viz., Mr. Sabu Joseph, Dr. K. Bhimsen, Mr. K. Gangadhar, Mr. Sunny Joseph, Mr.
S. Suresh, Mr. R, Pradeep Kumar (all JPF s from time to time) and Ms. Reena Ravindran and Mr.
T. K. Nidhinkuttan, Tech. Asst., whole heatedly and sincerely discharged their responsibilities to
the project. Ms. Beena. G. S., a research assistant in DOD/ASIS project moonlighted at times. Dr.
G. Prema supervised the work related to analysis of water samples.
We also take this opportunity to place on record our thanks to the Chairman, CGWB,
New Delhi for agreeing to release data pertaining to the wells drilled by CGWB in the coastal tract
of Kerala. The Director and staff of the local office of the Central Ground Water Board,
Trivandrum promptly provided the information.
The data pertaining to the blocks and Panchayats were made available to us by the
intervention of Collectors of the various (littoral) Districts of Kerala. Further, the Commissioners of
various corporations and municipalities provided us with useful information in respect of their
The Commissioner, Kerala State Land Use Board offered considerable support for the
project by permitting our staff to use their archival data. The Divisional Engineers of Trivandrum
and Olavakot Div. of the Southern Railway permitted us to gather data on the rail elevations in the
coastal land of Kerala.
The Director, Bureau of Economics and Statistics, Govt. of Kerala gladly supplied us with
published information on block level statistics. The Data on sea walls were offered to us by the
Coastal Erosion Studies wing of the Irrigation Dept., Govt. of Kerala.
We also take this opportunity to record the disbelief and consequent inability of the
Kerala State Electricity Board when we approached them for data on the installations along the
Low Coastal land of Kerala. We consider this perception of the KSEB as quite normal and as truly
representing a sample among the disbelievers of the phenomenon of Sea Level Rise due to
Green House Effect.

University of Kerala Thrivikramji, K. P.

Kariavattom, 695 581 Anirudhan, S.
June, 1992.






The Kerala coastal zone is about 560 Km2 if a coastal land zone of 10 km. width is
envisaged. By definition the coastal land zone (CLZ) encompasses an area which is under the
influence of the processes, responses and products of the shore zone. In fact the assumption of a
width of 10 km. for the coastal land zone is not arbitrary, considering the very wide variation in
width of the coastal land zone of Kerala. A similar width is assumed for the coastal land zone of
Kanyakumari Dist. Tamil Nadu, which attains then an area of 500 Km2.

Lithological make-up
The lithological make of the coastal land zone between Kanyakumari (TN State) and
Thalapadi (Kerala) are relatively variable, reflecting the variability of geological and structural
make up of the rocks forming the coastal land. The lithotypes exposed along the coastal tract are
variable in their resistance to the erosional forces of the steep monsoonal waves that release
stupendous quantities of energy along the shoreline.
The Precambrian crystalline rocks, the residual laterite derived from the former under
tropical weathering conditions, the laterite capped Tertiary sedimentary sequence and the ancient
and contributed to a condition of differential erosion of the shores during the monsoons. The main
causes of coastal erosion listed in the Shore Protection Manual are given in Table 1.1. Naturally,
as has been proposed earlier (Thrivikramji et. al., 1983), the crystalline rocks, laterite and
sedimentary rocks exposures capped by laterite and sedimentary rocks exposures capped by
laterite are far more resistant to erosion than the modern and ancient beach sediments.
Shoreline Types
Thrivikramai (1981) classified the shoreline and the adjacent coastal land based on the
erosivity into two categories, viz., the permeable shoreline which is highly vulnerable to the
monsoonal wave climate and the impermeable shoreline (relatively highly resistant to such
waves). Table 1.2 gives an estimate of the extent of the impermeable shoreline (in Km). The
cumulative length of impermeable shoreline works out to approximately 93 km. This estimate has
been made out of LANDSAT imageries (1: 250,000) and topographic sheets (1: 50,000) followed
by field checks.
The permeable shoreline contribute only 467 km. with in the state of Kerala. This sector
is highly vulnerable to erosion by waves during the monsoons and in fact studies have indicated
that in Kerala maximum oscillation of shoreline has taken place along this sector.
Typical schematic cross sections on the coastal land are given in Fig.1. According to this
scheme based on lithological make up and structure, there are at least 4 different categories,
which fall under the permeable and impermeable shorelines. The figures also suggest that
fluctuations in sea level can result in the characteristic morphotypes represented in Fig. 1.1. C
and D.

The Kerala coastal land covering an area of about 5600km2 and that of Kanyakumari
Dist. (~ area = 500 km2) have much in common as far as the geology and geomorphology are
concerned. There exists a bilateral symmetry from a vantage point off Cochin. In other words if
one made a trip northward and southward of Cochin, the geomorphic features and geological
formations that one may come across will be similar, in that after treading through the modern
and ancient beach/dune ridge complexes and the inlets, one would step over the residual laterite
of the Tertiary basin fill and will be further followed by residual laterite or gruss.
The sediments and rocks forming the Kerala coastal land are classified into permeable
and impermeable groups and hence Kerala shore line is typified by the permeable shoreline and
impermeable shore line (93 Km).

Historical changes of shoreline, like its extent and sense of movement (positive or sea
ward; static or neutral and negative or landward) can be reckoned with considerable reliability
from the study of maps, air photos and satellite imageries generated more or less periodically.
There exists considerable tedium in gaining access to such records, due to reasons ranging from
simple non-existence of these in the researcher s laboratories, to confidentiality classification and
hence access problems and delays and shear non-availability of maps of ones choice. However,
with great deal of perseverance and relentless pursuance, the said problems were largely over
come (Thrivikramaji, et. al., 1983).
The analysis of data pertaining to maps published after the first survey of the country
(early 1900 s) and the metric maps published in the late sixties, has suggested very interesting
trends as far as the behaviour of the shoreline is concerned. Some of the generalizations that
were arrived at are listed below.
1. The shoreline of the impermeable type is more stable and is less vulnerable to the
monsoonal erosion by very steep waves, and hence during a time span of approximately
50yr. It did not show any catastrophic backwearing. The impermeable shoreline is
invariably a cliffed shoreline, with or without a landfast beach, at least during the
monsoon season.
2. The permeable shore line on the other hand, demonstrated large oscillations resulting in
either accretion of beach sand and gain of new land area or erosion of beaches leading
to loss of land and consequent loss of structures, facilities and services (at least by
3. It was possible to estimate the cumulative loss of land (22 Km2) and cumulative gain of
land (41 Km2), along the Kerala Coastal land. In other words the net loss was 2200
hectares and the net gain was like 4100 hectares.
4. A mundane estimate of monetary loss or gain (Table 2.1) following the estimate of shore
line configuration changes is shelf explanatory and this may only be the tip of the ice berg
of losses that might ensue in the event of predictions due to SLR come true. Land loss
would result in a loss of Rs.1300 million and the gain would provide a benefit of Rs.2500
5. Another attempt is made to estimate the lost coconuts due to loss of planted land area or
due to the inability to plant and crop in the land area that had disappeared (Table 2.2). A
sample calculation suggests that approximately Rs.130 million worth of coconuts are
annually not produced in the state due to loss of land of about 2200 hectares.
6. In so far as the erosion/accretion phenomena along the beaches of Kerala are
concerned, one should also take into account the unique beach-formation-promotion
phenomenon called Mud Banks, which functions more or less like an offshore break
water in one or more points between Puthiyappa near Calicut in the north and
Thirkunnapuzha north of Quilon in the south. Only the beach on the lee side of the mud
bank is prone to erosion by waves.
7. In fact, this experience of loss as well as gain of land in the recent past should be taken
as cue to what is in store for us in the future. Added to that if we are bound to face the
consequences of SLR due to GHE, our troubles could be much more. In the following
pages of the report, the economic implications of the phenomenon of sea level rise are
presented based on the current prices.
In any study of the nature of the economic implications due to sea level rise, it will be
generally very difficult for the lay-public and non-specialist to appreciate the quantum or
magnitude of loss as they are seemingly very large. Hence, as ordinary beings we are not
able to perceive the real size and magnitude of the phenomenon through numbers.
Appreciation of such large numbers is easier if these are stated in comparison with familiar
numbers and facts.
It ought to be kept in mind that like we work out the cost of any commodity or service, it is
also possible to assess the cost of any nation or province or say the state of Kerala. In fact,
once a reliable estimate of the worth of the state is available, then any other cost estimate on
any other aspect can be compared with it and the implications of the magnitude can then be
easily understood.

What to Access?
Truly, to assess the real value of Kerala, we have to sum the actual weighted values of
land, goods, services and materials generated in the state from natural (primary) and man
made (secondary) sources. In fact, this figure is some what comparable to the state domestic
product, SDP, but not quite so in that the latter does not include the cost of land with in the
boundaries of the state.
Current Price of the State
The actual cost of land depends on the potential development capability which in turn is
controlled by geomorphology. For example a parcel of land on the mountains would have one
type of landuse potential and price than a piece of equivalent size in the coastal tract.
Further, the risks in either case are totally dictated by natural and manmade determinants.
The commonest of primary determinants are location, natural environmental setting,
physiographic controls, geologic history etc. these jointly determine the potential of the land
for further development of agri-, mining-, and manufacturing- industries. On the other hand,
the secondary or man made or anthropogenic factors are the potential for alternate
developments, development costs, insurance costs, tourist potential, and linkages with
communication and transportation net works etc. However, both sets of determinants jointly
decide the worth of cost of the parcel of land in question. Actually, a thorough knowledge of
these determinants, their distribution in respect of a parcel of land etc. are required for
assessing the worth in current prices.
In fact a modern data base of these parameters are essential to proceed in this line.
Unfortunately, such data bases are totally absent for almost all regions of the state. However,
data on some of the determinants are available with the specialized agencies of the state.
The census data also incorporates some other determinants. Unfortunately, the census data
now available in the form of published reports do contain only number frequency or
percentage type information. Sorting or recording of data in the spatial or map domain is not
yet practiced under census operations.
Therefore, in respect of assessing the worth of the state of Kerala, the modalities
described above have not been observed. An alternate method has been employed in
estimating the cost. For example, all the resource types indicated in Table 3.1, irrespective of
their origin like manmade or natural should fall under three main types viz., those occurring
on or above ground surface, those below the ground surface up to a certain depth and the
surface of ground itself. Instead of estimating the worth of the state by summing these three
categories, we used the simple strategy of estimating the worth based on the current prices
of the total area of the ground surface.
The only weightage in terms of cost of unit land that was applied for, is for location i.e.,
urban, rural and agricultural and for classification under a specific physiographic division. Due
to paucity of reliable and freely available data and due to paucity of funds we attempted to
project only the cost of land. Nothing that occurs below the surface of the land or above it has
been given weightage for, in the exercise.
In fact, if the SDP data of the state can be added to the land value, the resultant figure
should provide a reasonably relable estimate of the current value of the state of Kerala. By
implication, the SDP figures call for precise data on the various categories of resources that
occur above and below the ground. But at this point one often stumbles on the unreliability
and / or antiquity of the archival data if it extend. In general, most of the time due to paucity of
funds, it is often difficult for the researcher to engage suitable people to capture primary,
good quality data on the scale of a state.
Any student of economics will soon realize that this list (Table 3.1) sans certain items
(especially those listed under A) would amount to an estimate of the State Domestic Product
(SDP). In fact, this list can be expanded further. It is also true that list of items in Table 3.1,
covers most of the cardinal resource items that adds value to the state of Kerala.
Though the land resources, below the land resources and those that occur on it or above
it have to be considered for the estimation of the real value of Kerala, we used only the land
resources to make our assessment.
Our Methodology
As the worth of land varies from place to place mainly due to its location in one or other of
the three physiographic divisions, we projected the cost of land in each of the physiographic
divisions. Therefore, the land area falling under the physiographic divisions were assessed
first using a 1: 2,000,000 scale map from the Resource Atlas of Kerala (Anonymous, 1984)
and a polar planimeter.
But we realized the inadequacy of the generally accepted division, viz., the high land
(>75.0 m), mid land (between 8.0 and 75.0 m) and coastal land (< 8.0 m). Hence we modified
the three fold division for the purpose of this estimation by replacing the highland with two
new divisions. They are high highland (> 600.0 m). Height of the bars in Fig. 3.1 shows the
distribution of land area under each one of the four divisions.

What is the price?

Table 3.2 provides an estimate of the areas covered by the four divisions, the unit price
we have applied for each of the divisions and total worth of the state in terms of rupees. The
current values of each of the four divisions of the state are given in Figure 3.2.
Our estimates show that the total worth of the state s land resources are priced at Rs.
1080 Billion or say US $ 36.0 Billion. The mid land area is the costliest at Rs. 539.0 Billion,
where as the low land is priced at Rs. 110 Billion. The low high land is equally pricy, with its
projected cost of Rs. 287.0 Billion. The high highland is the cheapest of all at Rs. 74.2 Billion.
In fact, we believe that the rocky and mountainous terrain, with ever green forest patches and
the hidden plantations in priceless.

We figured that in order to convey the gigantic nature of the loss due to the SLR
phenomenon, we would require very novel strategies. Generally speaking, as human it is
difficult for us perceive very large numbers or long periods of time, for example geologic time.
One of the ways this task could made easier is to use some method of comparison.
Therefore, it was decided to make a construct like the current rupee value of the state and
compare the loss figures with the same.
Outside of the SDP, no readily available figure was around. We therefore, developed our
own method for the estimation of the rupee value of the land area of the state. For this
purpose, the highland region, recognized in the three fold physiographic division of the state,
was subdivided in to low highland (between 75.0 and 600.0 m) and high highland (above
600.0 m).
Further, using certain unit values for the land in the four physiographic divisions, the
worth of land area of Kerala has been determined as Rs. 1080 Billion.


The specter of sea level rise due to green house effect (SLR), has initially created
considerable degree of concern in the minds of many groups of scientists engaged in
research on climatic change and its consequences, viz., the potential colossal damage the
littoral states of various continents would be exposed to. Nevertheless, there are large
number of active disbelievers of the SLR phenomenon.
One of the ways of cautioning the public at large and the administrators including policy
makers and politicians, is to work out several different scenarios of the potential loss of
services, goods, property as well as land as a result of the phenomenon of SLR. In this
research we had attempted to come up with a first approximation assessment of economic
loss due to SLR, by taking into account, most of the man made items, services and natural
resources of an area that is exposed to the potential threat of SLR.
Although we had in our third report worked out the variability of inundation and erosion
due to the SLR scenarios proposed by Hofman (1984), in our assessment procedure, no
weightage is given for the along the cost variability of the erosional and inundational threat.
This is due to the constraints of access, extended period of working with aerial photos and
feature extraction processes and the time limits imposed on us. Therefore, an inventory of
most of the natural and man made features (Table- 4.1) in a strip of land of 500 meters lying
parallel and adjacent to the shoreline (wact) were made from the aerial photos. Further, in all
the estimations that followed, the area, resources, and services of the high coastal land has
been subtracted from the data used for making the final estimates of loss.
Estimate of economic loss should be estimated by addressing the extent of modification
of net economic services (NES) due to SLR (Gibbs, 1984). As the community that is affected
by the SLR normally carries out a set of economic activities, the estimate of NES and its
modification should reflect the loss. NES is a sum total of the returns from a set of
investments (gross services). A second category of loss would be increased costs of
maintenance and falling returns from the investments and loss entailed due to it. In order to
estimate the loss NES, one would have to carefully enumerate the categories of man made
and natural items that would be threatened or damaged by the SLR.
In any analysis of damage and destruction, the costs involved primarily in the
maintenance and repair (PMR) of the unit is to be assessed. These costs can be broken
down into three categories, viz., costs of maintenance to cover the routine depreciation; the
costs of storm and flood damage; and costs of action taken to mitigate, prevent or to respond
to the physical damages due to SLR.

Procedures of NES estimation

Ideally assessment of NES can be illustrated by taking a mundane example of a person
owning a house in the wact (Gibbs, 1984). This person earns a basic satisfaction of
possessing it, including value of land, capital cost of structure and all the amenities. Say in
any year, j, he derives some net economic services equal to NESj, which is equal to the
returns derived from the house (Sj), for example all the monies that would be collected minus
the maintenance cost (Hj).

NESj = Sj Hj (1)
Further, investments that occur during the year, NESj is assessed as below:
NESj = Sj Hj Nij (2)
According to Gibbs (1984) as the evaluation of NES covers a finite period of time, a final
term must be added to the eq-2 to reflect the value of remaining capital stock (CS) at the end
of the period, i.e, those things with remaining useful lives. For example cost of a new building
that came up in the final year of analysis needs to be included in the NES for that year. So
the eq-2 can now be modified to include all terms evaluated over time using the present value
PV (NES) = PV (S) PV (H) PV (NI) + PV (CS) (3)
Further according to Gibbs (1984), all articles of value can be assumed to provide a
stream of services (for e.g., a house provides a housing service). While assessing the impact,
all such units and items whose services and would be affected will have to be included or
else the results would be biased.
In the case of economic services, input of labor, capital and land would be involved as
the latter two are affected by the SLR resulting in damage, disuse or loss of the land as well
as affected by SLR. It is always better to use the current prices in making the assessments of
loss and damage to various streams and sources of services.
Finally behaviour of people directly affected by SLR must be taken into account.
Unfortunately, as the general public including institutions and others do not generally worry
too much about such and other natural disasters like sea level rise (and most of the time
rather irrationally), it is difficult to build in proper weightage for such behavior in the economic
analysis of SLR and consequences.
For example, the settlers in the Low Coastal Land have exposed to the behavior of the
sea as well as the phenomenon of beach erosion resulting in severe damages to land
property and others, perhaps irrationally, new settlements and other economic activities are
restarted after the beaches slowly rebuild in the post monsoon season. Another point of
interest is the landslides, which are very common in the hilly tracts of Wayanad and Idukki
districts of Kerala. It appears that with all the publicity if damage to crops and deaths of
people, the avoidance of potential sites of slides for various activities are yet gain currency
among the people. Economic reasons are perhaps the prime motivators of the economically
weaker people to go back to threatened beaches and hills. Thus public reaction to the SLR
and consequences shall also be not quite different. However, at least when it comes to the
governmental activities, the issue of SLR and its consequences should hopefully be earning
appropriate weightage from planners and developers.
Table. 4.1, is a list of most of the common categories of man made investments and
natural features to be taken into account in estimating NES. What are excluded in the table
and in most of the loss estimates is the industrial undertakings, shipyards, airports, ancient
light houses in the lowland, power distribution installations like transformer yards and
switching yards, wetland resources, intra coastal water ways, telephone and telegraph
network of wact etc. This is mostly because of our inability to earn useful data sets from
source agencies.

Data Collection
The data collection in regard to the loss estimate due to SLR, were mostly indirect. Data
on primary and secondary resources for the northern WACT were collected from the aerial
photos of 1 : 15,000 scale (Table 4.2 A to E), where as a picture of the investments and
resources distributed in the southern WACT was gathered by enumeration of the objects and
features in shore perpendicular transects of 25m. width extending landward (Table 4.3).
Advantages of anticipating SLR
In fact, the research that culminated into this and other three earlier reports is the direct
advantage of anticipating SLR. On the other hand, if SLR is not worried about the damages
and loss consequent on the flooding and erosion of land as well as of beaches, would go
down as another disastrous natural event in the history of our nation. Further, there is large
element of uncertainty about the consequences or of the rates of SLR. Therefore, human
response to such phenomenon like SLR are also bound to be very low.
Very plainly the advantages of anticipating SLR would be the avoidance of immediate
loss and damage to the natural as well as manmade objects, services and facilities. Further,
if SLR is anticipated, right investments could be made in the right sites if necessary even
outside of the WACT. Ultimately this would result in the reduction of community PMR costs.
Estimation of the potential loss that an individual, a community, a Province or a State
would face is primarily a task of Environmental geologists (resource managers). In fact, such
assessments are very essential and are of strategic importance in the future of a nation, as
such information would put the resource allocatios for future projects, investments and
programs in the proper perspective before the administrators and politicians.
The knowledge of the nature and extent of loss also would enable the politicians and
administrators to enact new zoning regulations, or modify the existing one to minimize or to
eliminate the right investments in wrong places. Only enactment of laws could ensure
investments by individuals to take place at safer places like outside of the WACT or within the
In fact, the assessment program is very cumbersome as proper weightage needs to be
given to various categories of resources as well as services that would be affected and would
call for increased costs of maintenance. In addition, there are not only loss of services and
goods, but there will be loss of opportunities.
It is not only the directly exposed would-be-affected-Tract of (WACT), and its people that
would suffer, but the adjacent areas and people also would be indirectly affected by the
damages done to the natural and manmade resources in the WACT.
As far as this work is concerned, due to first approximation nature of this study, we had to
gather data only indirectly from various archival sources to be analyzed for this study.


The potential threat and consequent loss of land and property along the Kerala coast was
projected in our third report where we analyzed the beach profiles and the near shore profiles
with the Brunn s rule. Certain generalizations were arrived at from such an analysis.
The application of Brunn s rule to the profile data to sites from Kanyakumari to Kunjathur,
suggested that the extent of inundation or erosion is not uniform from one tip of the province
to the other. Firstly, the physiography of the coastal land is a very important determinant in
the context of erosion and flooding.
The Kerala coastal land though falls below an elevation of 8.0m., the coastal land zone
includes areas that are taller than the 8.0m. cut off. This has enabled us to classify the
coastal land into High Coastal Land (> 8.0m.) and Low Coastal Land (< 8.0m.). In fact, it is
the geology of the coastal land zone that makes this division feasible. Our analyses have
showed that the potential for erosional and inundational threat would be at their full height in
the LCL.
Therefore, in our quest of work out the economic loss to Kerala due to SLR, we have
elected an average width of 500m. to the would-be-affected-tract or WACT.

Items excluded in the estimates

In the lost estimates, we have included all possible resources / investments in the WACT.
For example, Tables 5.1, 5.2 & 5.3 list out the categories viz., bore wells constructed by the
CGWB, intra-coastal water ways and tourist destinations falling in the WACT, excluded from
the analysis/

Nature of Distribution of Loss

In the WACT, there exists a great variability in the distribution of the resources,
investments etc. in side the 500m. zone. Table 5.3A and Fig. 5.1A lists the developmental
Blocks having a sea shoreline and hence falling under the WACT. There several municipal
towns and cities that are in the WACT.
In order to assess the potential loss, we had followed a dual strategy of data collection.
For the WACT, between Mattancherry and Kunjathur, a program of enumeration of all the
manmade and natural objects and resources were counted from aerial photographs of
1:15,000 scale.
As pointed out earlier, due to lack of access to airphotos, enumeration of objects and
investments in selected transect were made to base the same in the estimation of
investments and resources. This latter method uses selection of 25m. wide transects lying
very close to the urban area of Trivandrum, rural and subrural areas as well as rural industrial
towns. This data set was used in the loss estimates for the WACT south of Mattancherry to
Marthandanthurai. We however did not extent this exercise to the Kanyakumari Dist.
In the second stage, to make a loss estimate, we further assumed that WACT between
Mattanchery and Marthandanthurai looked exactly like any one of the seven transects we
studied. Based on this assumption we estimated the loss for the southern sector. This list of
items inventoried and assessed for loss are given in the tables.
Table 5.4 provides the current rates used for estimation of loss. The nature of distribution
of loss for the northern WACT is given in Table 5.5A, B, C & D. Table 5.6A & B depict the
summary of loss estimated for northern WACT.
In tables 5.5B, C, & D; we have projected the loss due to SLR, assessed out of the aerial
photos covered by specific topographic sheets. Damage in terms of rupees is listed for
various categories of objects and investments made in the WACT. Where ever possible all
the manmade and natural objects / items have been included.

Rupee Value of Loss

Tables 5.6A & B are the summary of results of loss estimate based on aerial
photographic data for the northern WACT. A total loss of Rs. 11.27 Billion (Rs. 2.43 Billion in
table 5.6A and if Rs. 8.84 Billion in 5.6B) has been projected in these estimates.
The estimated loss based on the inventories of the seven transects for the WACT south
of Mattancherry is given in Table 5.7. the loss ranges between Rs. 72.1 Billion if the wact
entirely looked like the Beemapally (B Pally) transect and Rs. 7.2 Billion if it were like IRE
Chavara transect from north to south.
Loss estimates, based on the inventory of seven transects in the southern WACT, can be
seen in Table 5.7 and Table 5.8 the total loss for the southern WACT based on the seven
The summary of results are displayed in a bar chart (Fig. 5.1). The sum of the loss for the
northern and southern WACT s would be considerable for the state (Table 5.9). It ranges
between Rs. 18.47 Billion (if the southern WACT looked like IRE Chavara transect from one
end to the other) and Rs. 83.37 Billion (if the model of Beemapalli transect is used instead).
All loss estimates in the WACT were estimated only indirectly. Further, some pieces of
data pertaining to wact remain either uncollected or unused. But majority of resources and
investment information have been made use of in the assessment. In actuality, all those
pieces of resource information that could be gathered from aerial photographs of 1 : 15,000
by skilled personal were meticulously gathered for the northern WACT i.e., Kunjathur to
In the case of southern WACT, lying between Mattenchery and Marthandanthurai, the
investment, natural resource and similar other data were collected by inventorying seven
selected transects representing the urban, near urban, rural and industrial rural regions.
The loss estimates were then made from data sets derived from the aerial photos and the
unit prices for the investments, in the northern WACT.
For the southern wact, to estimate the economic impact, ideally each one of the sampled
transects were assumed to represent the entire region. Hence, seven different scenarios of
loss were constructed. As we did not know nor had data at hand on the percentage
contribution of each one of the transect to the resource data of the southern WACT, we
couldn t give joint weightage for all the transect data, in our estimates of loss for the southern
Therefore, when we propose total loss estimates ranging between Rs. 18.47 and Rs.
83.37 Billion (Fig. 5.1) for the state of Kerala due to SLR, we provide seven different
scenarios by combining the loss suffered by the northern WACT, with those for the seven
specific transects sampled and assessed in southern WACT. This would amount to a per
capita loss between Rs. 637 amd Rs. 2875 to the state.


With regard to any plan for mitigating the potential threat of natural catastrophes like
SLR, an action plan needs to evolved and implemented by the government agencies with the
help of people and other non-governmental organizations (NGO s). In fact, it is easy to
distinguish two major players viz., the organized sector guided by government industry and
the unorganized sector mainly constituting the individuals of families, in the development
activity in any program of development of a country.
The organized sector (involved in ORGANIZED ACTION or OA) includes the
government, quasi government, and the private industry, whereas the contributions made by
individual citizens in the development arena by farming, building houses, by manufacturing in
small scale sector etc. would fall under the unorganized sector. For sake of convenience
such developments by the latter are classed under RANDOM ACTION (RA).
In general, in countries like ours most of the activities in regard to the development like
industrialization, large scale house building of service industry, construction of transport and
communication networks, disaster relief etc. are solely or partly implemented as an organized
action. Therefore, naturally, sufficient care and planning should bestowed and the activities if
required can be regulated in this sector by government.
But in the case of RA by an individual or a family in a community, it is nearly impossible
to have any major governmental control guiding its role in the observance of developmental
themes and loci. Even in the context of SLR, and existing or to be adopted zoning laws, the
aforesaid random actions are difficult for policing.

Proposed Action Plan

It is suggested that a multifaceted strategy of legislation of new regulations to control and
direct developments in the more safe tracts of WACT or out side of it should be adopted.
Secondly, it is proposed that modified designs of protective structures like groins and sea
walls be implemented, at sites of impending threat to major industrial investments of the
It is also proposed that the funds earmarked for construction of seawalls to protect the
coastal communities by building sea walls should hereafter be used for construction of multi-
storey, multi-family houses (Fig.6.1). Such houses would have the ground level floor left open
without walls in order to allow overwash to pass freely under the structure. This area can also
be a storage space for the tools and crafts used for fisheries.
Most importantly, the proper and timely education of the public should be attempted
through governmental machinery, media and NGO s to create an awareness of the potential
dangers and risks of sea level rise to the property and land in the WACT.
Further as a continuation, this study should be followed by a country wide research
program to document the nature and extent of exact losses of various categories suffered by
each of the blocks and wards having a shoreline in order to refine the economic impact
estimates proposed by us.

Amendments to the CZM Act

The Coastal Zone Management Act now published in the Gazette of India should be
modified to include clauses to take care of the potential threats to land and property due to
SLR. For example, the investments already made should be brought under proper insurance
cover to protect the investors from huge losses in the event of SLR related damages.
Secondly, the CZM act should have provisions to prevent large scale investments in the
Low Coastal Land (LCL), which rises not more than 8.0 meters above the high tide mark. For
example no new investments should be permitted within 500 meters of the modern shore
However, for investments in respect of High Coastal Land (i.e., those sectors that are
above 8.0 meters), the 500 meter stipulation can be waived, in lieu of a proviso that such
sites should be successfully screened for their stability of slopes etc., before permission is
granted for developmental constructions. In general past achievements in the LCL, cannot be
shifted to other sites due to the threat from SLR. Instead they should be afforded required
degree of protection by building protective structures like groins or sea walls. Further, the
investors should be advised of the consequences of SLR and also should be advised against
any plan for expansion. As far as possible those investments that can be relocated or shifted
to more safe and secure sites, should encouraged to do so.
As far as educating the public goes, financial help from agencies like UNEP, voluntary
organizations, NGO s etc. should be sought. This program should aim at the population of
different age groups. In fact, the literacy program should have a component Global Change
and Green House Effect. In the higher secondary courses units dealing with global
environmental change, its implications and how can this be prevented shall be included.
Free allocation of at least 10% of the printed page once a week in the printed media for
publication of advertisements dealing with the global environmental change, its
consequences and how individuals can help prevent these, should be made mandatory. The
electronic media also should adopt such a policy.
In fact, like every monsoon season in Kerala, this year s monsoon also inflicted its toll of
erosional damage to the back beach properties, investments and services. Despite this
routine economic activities of various sorts (like reconstructions, fisheries, tourist inflow etc.)
take place in the back beaches of Kerala.
Truly, we can think of measures and design them for implementation for protecting the
properties and investments in the WACT. Most of the design tasks will have to be enlarged
up on the currently practiced measures like, construction of dikes and heightening of dikes.
Systematically positioned well sites can be magnitude of intrusion of salt water in to the
coastal aquifers. Artificial recharge is another means of reducing the salt water intrusion.

The implications of SLR due to green house effect will be detrimental to the economy as
well as the life style of the people of Kerala. In fact, all the littoral states of the Indian Union
will face very serious damages to the physical system and the extent of overall damage will
be proportional to the population density, distribution of population and intensity of industrial
In fact, the government should take the initiative to legislate suitable laws or amend the
existing to control and regulate future investments in the WACT (would be affected areas) in
the coastal tract of country.
For example in the LCL, Low Coastal Land (<8.0 m in elevation) generally no investment
of any longterm nature shall be allowed in the backshore with in 500 meters of the modern
In the case of HCL, High Coastal Land (>8.0 m in elevation), beach front development
should be allowed only if the land is certified to be fairly durable in respect to stability of
slopes etc.
Further, a new scheme of insurance of properties and installations must be instituted to
insure the investments that have already been made in the WACT. Another aspect of the
program should be the education of the citizens of the country especially those people who
are directly exposed to the potential threat of coastal erosion and flooding due to SLR.
New designs need to be developed for the groins and sea walls so that such modified
design would fairly safely protect the investments that have been made already.
The citizens of the country should be provided with sufficient exposure to the global
environmental change and its consequences, and what could be done at the level of the
individuals to postpone or mitigate the adverse effects.
Lastly, a research program to refine the first approximation estimates of loss should be
developed and implemented.


1. Anonymous, 1984, Resource Atlas of Kerala: Center for Earth Science Studies,
Trivandrum, 97p.
2. Gibbs, M. J., Economic Analysis of Sea Level Rise : Methods and Results, 215-252, in
Barth, M. C. & Titus. J. G. (ed.), 1984, Green House Effect and Sea Level Rise: Van
Nostrand and Reinhold, New York.
3. Hoffman, J. S., 1984, Estimates of future sea level rise : in Barth, M. C. & Titus. J. G.
(ed.), 1984, Green House Effect and Sea Level Rise: New York, Van Nostrand and
Reinhold, 79-103.
4. Thrivikramaji, K. P., 1981, On the evolution of lagoons of Kerala coast : (Abst.),
International Oceanography Congress, UNESCO, Paris.
5. Thrivikramaji, K. P., Anirudhan, S. and Nair, A. S. K., 1983, Shoreline fluctuations along
Kerala coast: Retrospect, Perspect and Prospect; In Nambiar,K. R. (ed.), Proceedings
of the National Seminar on Environmental Management in Kerala, Trichur, 103-121.


1. Thrivikramji, K. P. & Anirudhan, S. 1990, Sea Level Rise Due to Green House Effect:
Implications to Kerala: Interim Tec. Report submitted to DOEn, Govt. of India, New Delhi,
2. -----------Do--------------- , 1991, Sea Level Rise Due to Green House Effect: Implications to
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