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Understanding and Dealing with Coastal Erosion


SubmittedinpartialfulfilmentofthePostgraduateDiplomainJournalismat theAsianCollegeofJournalism

WhatisCoastalErosion? EcologicalEffectsofCoastalErosion CaseStudy:TheImpactsofthePondicherryHarbour ExpertViewsandRecommendations

WhatisCoastal Erosion?
The natural process of erosion occurs when wind, water or ice eat into shorelines causing a permanent loss of land. Waves which are spurred by these elements cause the greatest damage, as they dig into sediments like rocks, sand, and earth. The impact of constant pounding of waves on the land eventually breaks fragments of ground and rock into sand. Plant and vegetation along the coast support the earths foundation and minimize scope for erosion. The crashing of waves can vary, depending on lunar tides. Continuous cyclonic winds can blow off sand causing the disappearance of an entire coastal fishing village. i However coastal erosion in India due to natural causes is a rare occurrence in comparison to human interference in natures conduit. Breakwaters and seawalls force waves back to the ocean. The walls are constantly pounded by waves and eventually split into rubble. These waves carry away sand from front of the seawall and deposit it into the ocean. This drift of sand results in deeper waters beside the shore, causing bigger waves. The bigger waves consequently ensue in the construction of bigger seawalls. These walls must continuously be reinforced because of the oceans matchless force. Due to monsoonal littoral drift on shorelines of East India, harbours and jetties become the prevalent contributors to coastal erosion. ii This paper reports on the outcomes of coastal erosion with scientific representations on the situation and expert recommendations. Beaches are crucial for the existence of coastal environments in the Bay of Bengal. Most human settlements and economic activities are located on low-lying land immediately behind beaches. Erosion is a serious threat and can damage regions along

the coast; therefore posing an important management issue. Sedimentation, a process of weathering and erosion, is not merely the basis for the existence of sand. Rivers also bring in sand to the sea and deposit the sediment on the coast. Sand deposited along coast forms estuaries, dunes, and beaches. This natural sand movement is a significant natural process and a factor which plays a major role not just downstream but also along our coasts. The beaches are like rivers of sand. The Corromandel coast is constantly adjusting to natural changes in wave and tide courses and sediment supply.ii As a result the coastline recedes and advances gradually. This is a natural and expected process on sandy shorelines. Changes in the shoreline also occur over a long time span. There is a distinct difference between short-term changes in the coast and long-term coastal erosion. Long term coastal erosion is a natural effect while short term shoreline changes occur over a period of days. Long-term coastal erosion occurs over years to decades. It is a gradual landward movement of the oceans due to the global warming and rise in sea levels. At present this occurrence is insignificant and irrelevant in comparison to the effects of short term and man-made coastal erosion. The common predicament with rising sea levels is that it affects the coast by allowing greater wave energy to erode the shore. However, this is a debated topic and some expert hydrologists like Ajit Reddy of Pondy Citizens Action Network (PondyCAN), argue that the cause of the rising sea level is simply unusual tide behaviour or inter-annual changes in weather patterns. But the common consensus is that under rising sea level, sand is removed from beaches and transported offshore. The short term phenomenon is most obvious during storms tsunamis and tidal waves, when strong wave energy actively removes sand from beaches. The waves encroach into the backshore area, beyond the

shoreline, causing erosion and sand displacement from it. The backshore acts as a sand reservoir and a barricade during storms. However, if the beach is untouched normal weather, littoral drift and wave patterns may cause the sand to be replaced on beaches. iii Man-made coastal erosion, the most noxious of the three is a growing factor in our country that is promoted by human actions. Here are a few examples of man-made coastal erosion: Sand mining, coral mining, commercial encroachments, power plants, coastal structures, large dams and most importantly ports and harbours. iv Dredging channels, which increases water depths at the shoreline and changes wave energy will allow the sea to affect the coast and reduce sediment supply. A dredging channel has been proposed for the Sethusamudram project. Sand extraction from beaches is a severe threat as it diminishes the sand volume of the coast. The Union Ministry of Shipping is involved in major public sector ports to promote oceanic transport over air transport. Experts working for the Ministry of Environment and Forests under the Chairmanship of Professor M. S. Swaminathan say that each structure would impact the shoreline particularly the beach formation. Already, many of these infrastructure projects have caused significant shoreline changes like in Ennore, Puducherry, Alibag, Digha and Dahej. v Habitat loss resulting from the narrowing of beaches in front of coastal armouring was evident year-round in front of seawalls even settings north of the harbours in Tamilnadu, suffer from habitat loss; Pondicherry, Ennore and Karaikal being some of the key locations. In article by The Hindu dated 16, November 2008, reporter R.Sujatha describes how several families were rendered homeless in Ennore and Tiruvottiyur due to coastal erosion. One of the fishermen was quoted saying, When I built my house 10 years ago it was 500 metres off the shore, today it is only 30 feet away.

The environmental impact from large construction projects in the coastal zone and further offshore attracts a great deal of attention. The protection of marine ecology such as mangroves, coral reefs, sea mammals, sea grass beds or recreational beaches, encompasses an integral part of the planning of any marine structure. This planning and study is neglected in most cases. Sandy coasts are severely impacted by the artificial force of human activity; beaches are squeezed between rising sea level on the marine side and expanding human populations and development on the landward side. Beaches have a great socio-economic value as recreational resources and are vital platforms for many tourist destinations. The impacts of coastal erosion can be calamitous. Several acres of beach and land can be devoured by the sea resulting in loss of livelihood. An additional hazard to this is that the coast becomes vulnerable to cyclones and tsunamis. The consequences of coastal erosion will be discussed in the subsequent chapter. Satellite images are another technique to observe the noticeable difference in the shorelines and the coastal environment as a result of the construction of coastal structures such as breakwaters and groynes at harbours. The technology of satellite imagery data strongly corroborates the observations from the ground.ii The data collected and information produced by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) can assist in better understanding and addressing some of the issues created by coastal erosion. In satellite imagery sea levels are measured by Seaframe tide gauges. The reaction of the oceans surface to a large number of forces such as wind and barometric pressure are demarcated by these gauges. Wind has a direct effect on raising the sea level at the border of land and water through wind set-up, and is to some extent dependent on the wind direction. Sea levels increase with a decrease in barometric pressure, or decrease when

pressure increases. Wind conditions locally and regionally may produce long period swells that contribute greatly to erosion in the surf zone.

India has a 7517 km long coastline spreading about 5423 km along the mainland and 2094 km the Andaman and Nicobar, and Lakshadweep Islands. The mainland coastline consists of nearly 43% sandy beaches, 11% rocky coast with cliffs and 46% mud flats and marshy coast. At present, about 23% of shoreline along the Indian main land is affected by various degree of erosion varying from minor, moderate to severe. As much as 1248 km of the shoreline is getting eroded all along the coast. vi

EcologicalEffectsof CoastalErosion
Sandy coastlines are home to diverse and productive habitats important for human settlements, development and local subsistence. Above half of the worlds population lives within 60 km of the shoreline, and this could rise to three quarters by the year 2020 (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development 1992). The Coastal strips have been vital for economic progress and development for thousands of years, since the oceanic trade routes were discovered. In recent years, extraction of resources, and increasing demands for recreational opportunities, are the widespread cause for population surges on these narrow coastal strips. vii A unique collection of invertebrates live on beaches. An exclusive xerophyte, the spinifex commonly known as Ravanas moustache has a widespread habitat on the Corromandel. The shores provide nesting sites for endangered birds and turtles. V. Deepak Samuel a lecturer at the Department of Marine Studies and Coastal Resource Management at the Madras Christian College says, The diminishing numbers of the hyponia creeper on Chennais beaches is a bad omen. The creeper clings to the sand binding with land and thus providing an unyielding beach. With the vanishing intertidal area due to erosion, he says These areas may look like marine deserts but are not, they provide habitat for a wealth of animals buried beneath the sand surface. The porous sand body harbours small interstitial organisms (bacteria, protozoans and small metazoans) forming a distinct food web. Larger invertebrates of the sandy beach include polychaete worms, clams, whelks and crustaceans, which can be scavengers, predators, and filter- or deposit feeders. Beaches generally lack plants in the intertidal zone. But the spinifex and hyponia play a significant role in holding the soil together.

Coastal erosion threatens the survival of crabs too. Dr. Samuel explains, Crabs integrate a part of the intertidal ecology. They help in cleaning up the shore environment by digging up dead matter. The common crab species that play this role are the Matuta Lunaris or moon crabs and the Ocypoda or ghost crabs. Most creatures typical of beaches are found in no other environment. Tiny burrows created by these decapod crustaceans serve as their home and food storage spaces. With rising sea levels due to erosion these burrows are submerged, forcing the crabs into extinction and disrupting intertidal technology. Some dissipative beaches have an abundance of bivalve populations that support commercial and artisanal recreational fisheries. These bivalves also serve as a nutritional substance for fishes and crustaceans.

Dr Samuel also warns us that the narrowing of beaches in response to coastal armouring -- the construction of coastal structures like harbours and seawalls -- has reduced the habitat types available and the diversity and abundance of macro invertebrates. It is consequential on predators, such as shorebirds that would have to deal with a combination of dilemmas like habitat loss; decreased accessibility at high tides; and reduced prey availability on armoured beaches. Unfortunately the impact of coastal armouring is neither well studied nor understood. Most of the sandy Corromandel beaches harbour distinctive ecological species and provide critical foraging and nesting areas for threatened wildlife, such as the Olive Ridley sea turtle.

In a recent survey by the Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA and the Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA researchers discovered that macroinvertebrates and birds were abundant, and greater in number on unarmoured segments than on armoured segments of the beaches. They also revealed that the average abundance of macroinvertebrates was six times 15 times higher for unarmoured segments than for armoured segments of the beach. Shorebirds like gulls reacted strongly to the presence of seawalls.

coastal livelihood. The scale of ecological responses to coastal armouring found has been meagre and indicates that research is critically needed on these impacts to inform the public on conservation and management of these ecosystems. The focus on management of beaches by environmentalists and researchers has roughly always been on sustaining and restoring physical and geomorphological characteristics important for coastal armouring ecological aspects of coastal erosion are In most cases, there has been very less study done, in basic ecological information required for conservation planning on beaches; or in other situations ecologists have been kept out of the conservation project and are not engaged with coastal managers. The M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation is the only organisation working on shoreline ecological conservation policies for beaches in India. In the Fourth International Sandy Beach Symposium researchers announced that beach ecosystems are important in processing large quantities of organic material and recycling nutrients back to coastal They play a key role as a digestive and incubating system that filters water, mineralises organic matter and recycles the nutrients. Dr. Samuel elaborates, The high productivity of this system is linked to rich surf-zone phytoplankton and microorganisms. There is a physical and biological direct interaction with coastal dunes. Beaches link terrestrial aquifers with coastal waters through the absolving of groundwater which is full of rich nutrients. This imperative function of the beach magnifies the destruction coastal erosion is causing be encroaching on shorelines. In the symposium, it was also agreed that ecologists must play a crucial role in the development of conservation and management strategies. They should create awareness amongst the public on ecological threats of human interference upon the

A total of 1285 shorebirds of 14 species were observed in the survey. Thirteen species of shorebirds were observed on unarmoured segments and 10 species on armoured segments. viii The research article further elaborates the methods of study in detail and immaculately. Details of the study area the materials used for the survey and relevant tables are provided through their complete analysis of armoured beaches. The article concludes with a discussion on the impacts of armoured beaches on coastal ecology. In Pondicherry, the disappearance of predator and shore birds like kites and gulls have converted the ocean and the sky into a deserted zone. The birds have lost access to prey because of a distinct change in coastal marine ecology. The root to this observable fact is once again due to coastal erosion A disruptor in the cycle of

beaches. For this awareness campaign several coastal policy actions were proposed. The following points are listed in a study on advances in sandy shore ecology in the Fourth International Sandy Beach Symposium: vii
1. Raise the public profile of beaches as being diverse ecosystems. 2. Highlight that beaches are extremely vulnerable to climate change. 3. Emphasise that beaches are ecologically linked with other coastal systems. 4. Stress the critical role of human population growth and associated development as underlying causative factors of coastal change. 5. Develop predictive capabilities in sandy beach ecology to forecast the nature and magnitude of ecological changes caused by climate change. 6. Promote the use of adaptive management frameworks. 7. Develop best ecological practice for human interventions to sea-level rise and shoreline retreat. 8. Use management interventions as opportunities for experiments. 9. Provide climate-envelope maps for sandy beach species. 10. Foster integration of global and local research and across disciplines.

susceptible to pollution that impacts the water filtration and purification process. Human impacts on beaches are not a modern phenomenon: mankind has used and managed coasts throughout its history of settling the worlds shorelines (Nordstrom 2000) ix . Impacts on beaches are likely to be aggravated because of the growing human population density in coastal regions. This population expansion, develops into a widespread transformation of coastlines to urban areas.vii Global warming which is resulting in extreme climate changes is a severe threat to coastal ecosystems. This phenomenon however has a gradual and mild effect on beaches. The expected impacts are: rise in sea level, erratic weather ensuing in raging storm and wave regimes. The future of sandy beach ecosystems is at stake with an accelerated erosion of beaches and landward recession of shorelines due to climate. Globally, 70% of beaches are already receding; 2030% are stable, while 10% or less are accreting.(Bird 2000) x

The decisive cause of the damaging impacts on sandy beaches is human expansion against the forces of nature. In particular, it is a disproportionate growth and geographic expansion of coastal populations and a mounting interest on industrial activities, such as the building of harbours. Structures of the sort escalate erosion and pressures on sandy beaches. There are, however, a number of immediate causes for environmental degradation. Some of these like, reduction of sediment supply in watersheds and sewage, are interrelated or are generated outside the sandy beach systems. In the last couple of centuries, however, beaches are transforming into hotspot coastal development sites for tourism, fishing and industrialization. Beaches are

CaseStudy:The Impactsofthe PondicherryHarbour

The construction of the Pondicherry harbour in 1986 has adversely affected its beaches. Due to erosion, the coasts of Pondicherry and neighboring Tamil Nadu have diminished by 30 Kilometers and eight Kilometres of beach has disappeared. A recent survey conducted by the Revenue Department stated that 7000 families were affected only in Pondicherry. Erosion due to ports is a major issue along many coastal stretches of India. xi Ports are artificial man-made obstructions and disrupt the natural littoral drift of sand caused by the seasonal monsoons. NDTV broadcasted a Save Indias Beaches campaign in June 2009. They displayed the unfavorable effects of a large number of planned ports, harbours and industries which would only accelerate the erosion and environmental degradation along the coasts. Located at the southern tip of the union territory, the Pondicherry harbour is engineered for barges, steamboats and large vessels; however, today it serves only as a fishing harbour. The construction of two breakwaters is the principal cause to the citys coastal erosion. These two man-made blockades obstruct the natural south to north drift of sand during the monsoons. Messing with natures course of action has clearly proved detrimental. Situated 22 kilometers away from Cuddalore port and 160 kilometers away from Chennais international harbour, there seem to be no valid explanation for the construction of this giant obstruction in a peaceful town. So why isnt the state simply exploding these breakwaters? Aurofilio Schivania a French hydrologist and a member of PondyCAN explains, The primary argument for the harbours existence is that the fishermen do need a refuge to protect their boats from cyclones. Prior to the construction

of the harbour, cyclone warnings from the Meteorological Department compelled Pondicherry fishermen to sail all the way to the Cuddalore port and park their trawlers. A number of these warnings turned out to be false alarms causing a waste of fuel and time for the fishermen. This led to unheeded warnings causing greater sufferings, like severe damages to trawlers parked on the Pondicherry beach. Before the harbour was even built the erosion problem was well anticipated, the Central Water and Power Research Station (CWPRS, Pune) had studied the design of the Pondicherry harbour mouth and they had predicted that the littoral drift would have got disrupted. The intended proposal was to have dredgers bypassing silt to prevent erosion. This artificial form of sand by-passing was to replace the natural littoral drift by pumping silt on the north coast of the harbour. This proposal engages high levels of continuous energy consumption. A sand bypass system was set up; however it remained unused most of the time. Professor of Marine Ecology and scuba-diver, Shilpin Patel says, In order to pump the amount of sand that occurs by the natural littoral drift, two dredgers are required to operate round the clock. However, the Public Works Department (PWD) seldom runs a single dredger. If only the PWDs indolent nature was anticipated, then the architects would have designed the port north of Pondicherry, creating no damage to its beach.

In 2002 the issue was raised in the union territorys legislative assembly. Experts from IIT Chennai and the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) recommended the building of groynes to the government. However, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage and Citizens Forum for Pondicherry objected to this proposal, arguing that groynes would only shift the erosion crisis up north of the breakwaters. Following this, in April 2004 was the 6th Coastal Protection and Development Advisory Committee (CPDAC) meeting held at Pondicherry. In this meeting CPDAC chairman M.K. Sharma discussed erosion problems in India and emphasized the need to explore and adopt the latest environment friendly technologies. Mr. Sharma went on to inform the participants about the erosion problems in Pondicherry and advocated cost effective and environment friendly technology. He quoted example of coastal protection technique adopted in Bangladesh. He mentioned about the Central Sponsored Scheme (CSS) of UT of Pondicherry, which has recently been approved by the Govt. of India. xii

building of groynes still continues. Granite rocks are being dumped off the Pondicherry coast every other day without a coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance. Aurofilio Schivania explains why the building of groynes cant stop: Groynes are a large business and quick source of easy money for the granite suppliers and MLAs who own the transport trucks. Most contractors are involved in fraud as monitoring the number of rocks below the sea is unfeasible. The rocks further sink into the sand and in a couple of years more have to be dumped. This process is an endless source of income for the Groyne Industry.

In November 2007 a conference was held in Auroville. Hydrologists from IIT Chennai, NIOT and CWPRS came to an agreement with government officials that soft solutions, such as sand bypassing, should be adapted as soon as possible. Government officials assured the public that the original dredging system would be reactivated. xiii However, no action has been taken and the

PondyCAN is a non-profit organization committed to preserve and enhance the natural well being of the citizens. Their foremost effort is to reclaim the beach of its quaint town. The organisation is in pursuit of a long term, livelihood sensitive, eco-friendly and sustainable solution. PondyCANs campaigns are related mostly to advocacy. There have been no protests or public demonstrations as yet. One of its members revealed that the Save Indias Beaches campaign on NDTV was initiated by them. PondyCAN and Coastal Action Network (CAN) filed a public interest litigation in the Chennai high court in January 2008, seeking an end to the construction of groynes. The court then ordered the Public Works Department to obtain environmental clearances. The Union Environment Ministry has also asked the Pondicherry government to stop work on the groynes because it had not applied for CRZ clearance. However construction still goes on in broad daylight.

The port has had disastrous impacts on villages. The problem has turned into a socio-economic dilemma for land-owners along the coast. North of Pondicherry, land prices beside the shoreline have fallen and villages washed away. Once, a coastal haven to tourists, the Pondicherry city now faces the wrath of Poseidon. Surveys by PondyCAN reveal that two-hundred acres of land is lost on the north of the harbour A total sum of Rs 500 crore worth of land has been lost in the past 23 years. Issues of environmental change and marine ecology are long forgotten. Very few are aware that the Pondicherry beach was once a nesting area for the Olive Ridley turtles. The shore is also habitat to bivalves (chippies) and crabs. Disappointingly the ecological harms are overlooked because of the lucrative groyne industry.

Activities Network; Pondicherry Government employees Confederation, LIC workers committee, Friends of the Earth, Sempadugai Nanniran, Science Forum; HOPE, Fishing communities of Pondicherry, students and concerned residents of Pondicherry. xiv However the success of this campaign was short lived and the conservation of Pondicherrys coast is once again being neglected.

The expenditure of the artificial rock barriers are only a source of money for the politicians. The value to each of these impacts is the cost of the sea wall; which only adds to the hazards of the disaster. Worse still, in 2007 a proposed building of a major port in Pondicherry with bigger breakwater structures had come up to erase the beach and the little town altogether. Fortunately with the help of environmental activists like Medha Patkar this proposal was turned down. On World Oceans day, 14th of June 2009, the Save Indias Beaches campaign was held by the Pondicherry Peoples Protection Committee (PPPC) accompanied by a signature campaign on the Beach Road. The groups which participated in this campaign were PPPC, PondyCAN, Seashore Protection

The issue has witnessed a qualitative measure of media coverage also. The Hindu, Times of India and the Indian Express have all been following the story vigilantly. An article on September 5 2009, in The Hindu, covered the Villupuram Collectors assessment on the sea incursion south of the Pondicherry coast. Apart from mainstream newspapers, magazines like Down to Earth and India Today have researched the dilemma and confirmed the grave problem on a national platform. On Rediff news, A. Ganesh Nadar discusses the solutions of the looming disaster in an exclusive interview -- The fight to save India's beaches -- with president of PondyCAN, Probir Banerjee dated June 05, 2009. xv Down to Earth reporter Arnab Pratim Dutta writes in his article Blocking the Sea -The Coromandel Coast has an estimated six million cubic metres of sand moving south to north. vii His report explains why the areas north of the breakwaters in Pondicherry are losing their beaches because there is no sand to replenish them. He describes the ineffective efforts by several people, such as Z S Tarapore, a consulting engineer with Danish Hydraulics Institute ((DHI) a Delhi-based consultancy). Tarapore had warned the government of the consequences of building groynes in 2004.

The rocks being dumped along the coast cannot substitute the sand. The sand plays the role of a natural barrier and protects the shoreline from cyclones and tsunamis. In fact, buildings are cracking; roads are sinking and the groundwaters salinity level gradually is rising. Some coastal villages are losing fresh water -- making farming unfeasible. Water security and water contamination issues are entirely ignored by the government. These numerous impacts have been disastrous -over 8 km of coastline along the Pondicherry town and neighbouring Tamil Nadu to the North of the Pondicherry Harbour has eroded and is presently lined by a rubble mounded seawall. The steepening of the foreshore area and the coarsening of the sand along the shores is visible up to a distance of 30 km to the North of Pondicherry town. It is approximately estimated that the erosion is advancing at more than 350 meters/year northwards along the coast. Every year several houses in neighbouring Tamil Nadu to the north get washed away into the sea due to this erosion. The Pondicherry beach road is sinking and several cracks and depressions can be seen. Portions of the same road slightly further away from the sea can be seen to be in good condition. Most shallow wells to the north have turned saline. Fishermen with catamarans and smaller boats have to give up their profession because they have no place to park their boats any longer. The livelihood of several hundreds of fishermen has been affected.x

revenues attained from tourism along with its beaches. He further narrates the history of erosion in Pondicherry. Erosion has been going on along Pondicherry coast ever since the French built the first pier. That perished and a new one was again built, and erosion continued ever since, but on a milder scale. However, piers do allow some sand flow in comparison to the breakwaters imbedded at the harbour. PondyCANs ideal solution is to close the harbour. They suggest that the money used for 24 hours dredging which cost 3 crores (Rs 30 million) a year should be given to those 150 fishing families to find an alternative employment. However, their alternative and less radical solution would be to stop hard-engineering and support soft engineering measures. Sand by-passing and beach nourishment must be adopted instead of dumping rocks and building groynes. Groynes are an additional expenditure as they keep sinking and have to constantly be replaced.

Max Martin of the India Today describes the situation from a different perspective. His article titled Pondi loses its cherry begins with how the town will lose its

ExpertViewsand Recommendations
In the Pondicherry case study, Consulting Engineering Services (India) Private Limited (CES), New Delhi undertook the designing of the harbour at the Ariyankuppam river mouth in 1982 and after detailed studies acknowledged that the harbour would upset the natural movement of sand. Most of their report deals with the sand dredging and bypassing systems that needed to be setup to prevent erosion from taking place. xvi Even though CES (India) Pvt. Ltd. designed the whole sand-by passing system to prevent erosion of the Pondicherry coastline, this system is still un-utilized and neglected.

In the subsequent years, several hydrologists like Dr. Jacob Steen Moller of the Danish Hydraulics Institute (DHI) and Jan Van de Graaff from the Delft Technical University (DTU), visited the site and suggested that detailed studies be undertaken. Following these distinguished visits the Pondicherry Public Works Department (PPWD) constituted a Committee for protecting the Pondicherry sea coast from such erosion. xviii Unfortunately, this committee has never met or taken any action. In April 2008, DHI (India) proposed a Techno Commercial Project of 1, 45, 00,000.00 (Rupees one Crore Forty Five Lacs only) to rectify the severe damage created by the Ariyankuppam harbour. The proposal is meticulously planned. Detailed chapters demonstrate the methodology for the study and approach: the inception phase, land use and capability assessment, intersectoral environmental impact study sectoral activity planning, special area management planning, determination of shoreline management zone and integrated coastal zone management plans. xix This proposal is evidence of a well studied project. However, the Government has yet again disregarded solutions right under their nose. In June 2004 Dr. Z.S Tarapore, retired director of the CWPRS, who was awarded the Padmashree for his work on coastal zone management, was made consultant by the Pondicherry Government for looking into the problem of coastal erosion as well as the required protection. This proposal was agreed by the PWD. Dr. Tarapore wrote to The Chief Engineer of the Pondicherry PWD in relation to

In 2001, Department of Ocean Engineering (DOE), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) undertook a study of the Pondicherry coastline by the Government following the insistence from the Pondicherry citizens groups and NGOs. This study confirms that the damage to the coastline has been caused by the harbour, because it has interfered with the natural movement of sand along this coastline. xvii From their research the DOE advised hard engineering methods, such as the building of sea walls and groynes, to the Pondicherry government.

his official visit to Pondicherry in August 2002 xx :

It was pointed out by me that the root problem was the non-by passing of drift around the Ariyankuppam Fishing Harbour, which was built around 1982, which had created a cumulative deficit of perhaps 10 million tonnes or so in the supply of sand to the Pondicherry beach. As a result, the beach fronting the city had completely washed away, requiring stone protection of the shoreline right up to the Tamil Nadu border. The shoreline has subsequently deepened, bringing in larger waves attacking the embankment in front of the Secretariat. The actions suggested by me included: Detailed morphological modelling of the shoreline, with the goal of improving the bypassing efficiency around the Ariyankuppam Harbour. Undertaking a massive nourishment programme to at least partially overcome the cumulative deficit. Determine from the model study where and how much nourishment be undertaken, and Assessing the maintenance required after completion of the recommended works at Ariyankuppam. I had mentioned that the morphological studies be carried out urgently, either through the Central Power and Water Research Station, which is the Government of Indias Technical Secretariat for beach erosion problems, or through worldrenowned institutions such as the Danish Hydraulics Institute. Lest it be considered that the proposal was only to carry out a long and time-consuming study, I had arranged an offer from DHI with a time frame of 15 weeks, which would have permitted the undertaking of remedial measures in the calm season of 2002-03. I now understand that the Government of Pondicherry is contemplating further beach protection works, and am accordingly writing to suggest that the matter be weighed carefully and the morphological studies be carried out urgently at either

CWPRS or DHI so that irreversible damage be avoided.

In spite of Dr. Tarapores cautious warnings, the PWD took no action in this regard. Acting against the PWDs indolence, PondyCAN met Shri Jairam Ramesh on 14, July 2009, Union Minister of Environment & Forests (MoEF) in New Delhi regarding the urgent need for restoration of the affected coastline. The Minsiter understood the gravity and importance of the problem and agreed to fund such an initiative. A proposal was submitted to him. This proposal is currently being considered by the MoEF.

Below is a collated list of recommendations by expert hydrologists and coastal management specialists.
1. Immediate a. Activate sand by-passing system for nourishment and restoration of beach immediately north of Pondicherry harbour b. Undertake model studies urgently to arrive at the best method of restoring the eroding beaches of Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu. Study the impact of groyne fields with and without artificial nourishment, before embarking on new measures c. Remodel the existing harbour entrance for maximizing natural sand by-passing: Long Term:



b. c.

Restoration to include artificial nourishment, as universally accepted Investigate off-shore sand deposits for nourishment Identify suitable sand nourishment equipment to operate in wave environment


Strengthen the knowledge base of coastal erosion management and planning.


Administrative: a. Coastal Zone Management Authorities (CZMA) of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry to coordinate and take up the issue of coastal erosion jointly b. Initiate Pondicherry component of Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (ICZMP), in conjunction with Tamil Nadus ICZMP

PondyCAN shares similar views as the M.S Swaminathan Research Foundation. They both choose soft engineering methods over hard engineering methods. The Swaminathan Committee working on the Coastal Regulation Zone identifies sea walls as last resort coastal protection measures and serious threats to the stability of coastal ecosystems and livelihoods.
Over a period, it has been concluded that there is more harm done to the coast by these seawalls, since they disturb natural sediment budget, which leads to erosion in adjacent coastal areas. Soft engineering measures such as coastal vegetation, beach nourishment, etc. are preferred for coastal protection. xxi

Short-term measures without in-depth study such as the construction of seawalls and groynes must be prohibited. Existing obstructions of the Littoral Drift like the harbour or groynes should be duly redesigned. In Durban, a similar concern was dealt with by gradually replacing by new piers and thus allowing a partial flow of littoral current. This approach drastically improved the condition of the beaches that were being malnourished with sand due to the harbour. xxiii PondyCAN suggests that emergency beach nourishment schemes should be immediately undertaken and long-term coastal restoration and management programmes should be developed and implemented.

The European Unions Eurosion has undertaken a massive coastal erosion research project and has come up with four broad recommendations xxii :
1. Restoring the sediment balance and providing space for coastal processes. Internalise coastal erosion cost and risk in planning and investment decisions. Make responses to coastal erosion accountable.




i Whatiscoastalerosion? OracleEducationFoundation ii Abriefnoteonshorelinechangescausedbyman madecoastalstructuresPreparedbyPondyCitizens ActionNetwork(PondyCAN),Oct2009. iii CoastalErosionFactsheetSouthPacificRegional EnvironmentProgrammeAProjectsupportedbythe AustralianGovernment iv ProposedStrengtheningofIndiasCoastalRegulation ZoneNotification(1991)ForPreventionofManmade CoastalErosionofNaturalSandyBeachEcosystems PreparedbyPondyCitizensActionNetwork (PondyCAN),Jan2010. v FINALFRONTIERAgendatoprotecttheecosystem andhabitatofIndiascoastforconservationand livelihood SecurityReportoftheExpertCommitteeonthedraft CoastalManagementZone(CMZ)notification constitutedbythe MinistryofEnvironmentandForestsunderthe ChairmanshipofProf.M.S.SwaminathanJuly 16, 2009 ReportonuseofSatellitedatafordetectionof violationoflandusealongtheCoastalRegulationZone andImpactofPortstructuresonShorelinechanges submittedtoMinistryofEnvironmentandForestsby MinistryofEarthSciencesICMAMProjectDirectorate, ChennaiandIndianNationalCentreforOcean InformationServices(INCOIS),Hyderabad,Oct2009 . vii Astudyonsandybeachecosystems:keyfeatures, samplingissues,managementchallengesandclimate changeimpactsbyThomasA.Schlacher,DaveS. Schoeman,JeniferDugan,MarianoLastra,AlanJones, FelicitaScapini&AntonMcLachlan(2008Blackwell PublishingLtd) viii Anarticleonecologicaleffectsofcoastalarmouring onsandybeachesbyJeniferE.Dugan,DavidM. Hubbard,IvanF.Rodil,DavidL.Revell&Stephen Schroeter(2008BlackwellPublishingLtd) ix NordstromK.F.(2000)BeachesandDuneson DevelopedCoasts.CambridgeUniversityPress, Cambridge,UK,352pp.
x vi

Minutesofthe6thMeetingofthe"CoastalProtection andDevelopmentAdvisoryheldatPondicherryon7th April,2004.Themeetingwasheldunderthe ChairmanshipofShriM.K.Sharma,Member(River Management),CWCandexofficioAdditionalSecretary, Govt.ofIndia.


BlockingtheseaanarticlebyArnabPratimDattain theSeptember2008DowntoEarthissue xiv APressReleaseon13.06.09bythePondicherry PeoplesProtectionCommittee(PPPC)


ThefighttosaveIndiasBeaches Link: thefighttosaveindiasbeaches.htm


DevelopmentofPondicherryPort.UpdatedProject Report.May1982.ConsultingEngineeringServices (India)PrivateLimited(CES),NewDelhi


ReportonTopographicandBathymetricSurveyof PondicherryCoast,Pondicherry.DOE,IIT,Chennai. February02 PWDletterNo.8228/PW/SEII/A6/IP232/01 02/3357 DHI(India)Water.Environment.HealthConsultancy servicesforPreparationofSustainableCoastal ProtectionandManagementPlanTechnoCommercial ProposalApril2008 I.D.NoteNo.613/PW/BRS/DB/D3/F.No.9/200405





Section2.8.1Coastalerosion(page68)fromthe SwaminathanCommitteeReport(January2005)onthe CRZNotification Link:



Chapter13ofDurban/NatalBeachErosionand ManagementCaseStudybySSinclairHannocks1994

BirdE.C.F.(2000)CoastalGeomorphology:An Introduction.JohnWiley,Chichester,322pp. AbriefnoteontheErosionoftheCoastalongthe KottakuppamBlockinVillupuramDistrictPreparedby PondyCAN,September2009