Sanjay Rode


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The coastline of India is characterized by several ecosystems and resources. Such ecosystem is characterized by the several economic resources. In coastal districts, large economic activities are located. Coastal ecosystem protects the region from saline winds, cyclones, tsunami, waves etc. It promotes raw materials for the number of manufacturing activities. The population in cities is generally increasing because they provide easy access to ocean, rivers beaches and other natural areas and are a good source for raw material and food. In addition, they provide good access to jobs, employment, housing and port, access to a wider market etc. The coastal regions where land and water meet are ecologically dynamic and sensitive regions, as marine and coastal ecosystems continuously impact on each other. These regions are rich ecologically as they are home to a large variety of eco systems, such as mangroves, water bodies, seaweeds coral reefs, fisheries and other marine life, and other coastal and marine vegetation. Coastal ecosystems protect the region from saline winds, cyclones, tsunami waves etc, promote carbon sequestration and promote biodiversity as well as provide raw materials for a number of manufacturing activities. Coastal regions are also attractive for carrying out major economic activities such as construction of ports and jetties, trade, ship building and ship breaking, large export based manufacturing including oil refinery and petroleum based industries, agriculture, tourism, aquaculture and fisheries etc, all of which are likely to put tremendous pressure on the coastal ecology. It is important therefore to maintain a balance between the ecology and economy in the region to ensure sustainable development. It is a big challenge to policy makers to promote economic growth in the region along with protecting and promoting the ecology of the region.

Most coastal states in India have not been able to maintain this balance between economy and ecology, with the result that they are facing serious problems with respect to life and livelihood of coastal population on the one hand and sustainability of the development on the other hand. These areas are facing problems related to salinity ingress in land and water resources, depletion and degradation of coastal ecosystems and natural resources, pollution of resources etc, which have impacted on the life and livelihoods of people in multiple ways. A coastline is more than 7500 km, characterized by a variety of coastal ecosystems and coastal resources. These regions are located in 14 states and union territories spread over 75 districts.

In all, there are 14 states and union territories which have a sea coast. Of their total 214 districts, 75 (35 percent or a little more than one third) are coastal and 139 are non-coastal. Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have the highest coast, followed by Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, West Bengal, Karnataka etc.

Indian coastal region is highly heterogeneous and very complex. It possesses variety of resources, habitats and is also very rich in biodiversity, and can be considered as one of the most productive ecosystems on the earth. The Indian coastal region can be divided in three parts namely; the western coastal region, the eastern coastal region and group of Islands. The western coastal region is generally exposed to heavy surf and rocky shores. The normal annual rainfall in the region is around 250 cm except Gujarat and Diu- Daman. The eastern coastal region is generally shelving with beaches, lagoons, deltas and marshes. The annual average rainfall in the region varies between 75 to 150 cm. Islands like Andaman and Nicobar get normal annual rainfall in the range of 50 to 150 cm.

India has an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) area of 2.02 million sq km comprising 0.86 million sq km on the west coast, 0.56 million sq km on the east coast and 0.6 million sq km around the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Intensive agriculture and modern aquacultural activities are proliferated in the eastern coastal states. On the other hand a number of ports and industries have come up in the western coastal states. Tourism has emerged as a major economic activity in coastal states such as Goa, Kerala and Orissa.

It appears that coastal livelihoods are threatened by a number of modern developments taking place on the coast. Some of the important developments are intensive agriculture, aquaculture, mining & quarrying, infrastructure development, industrial development, tourism and increasing urbanization. Intensive agriculture, encouraged under the green revolution has promoted the economic growth in these regions. However, the green revolution, which frequently resulted in excessive use of fertilizers, pesticides, improved seeds and irrigation, has affected ecology of coastal areas adversely. Ingression of salinity and alkalinity in land and water, eutriphication, depletion and degradation of ground water etc. are some of the adverse effects of intensive agriculture that did not take adequate care of land and water resources. These problems have affected adversely the sustainability of livelihood in agriculture on the one hand and resulted in shortage of potable water supply on the other hand. Aquaculture development is another important development that has contributed to economic development of this region, particularly in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. However, the unsuitable locations and unscientific practices have affected some regions fairly adversely. Some of the adverse effects are destruction of mangroves; seawater ingression through shrimp farms and overuse of ground water if shrimp plant is dependent on ground water. These have resulted in exposing the coast to strong winds, storms and tsunami waves, affecting adversely the safety and security of coastal populations. Again, several coastal states have promoted mining and mineral based industries, other industries and infrastructural projects like ports and jetties, highways etc on the coast. However, wrong locations and excessive scale of these activities as well as unsustainable methods of disposal of discharges have frequently led to excessive salinity as well as excessive pollution of land, air and water resources in this region. The states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Goa etc have particularly experienced these problems. The higher incidence of urbanization, which is a consequence of these developments, has once again raised pressure on natural resources and impacted adversely on coastal livelihoods of people when it is accompanied by unsustainable use of natural resources.

Of all the impacts on coastal resources, the increased salinity of land and water is an important impact, as (1) it is widespread covering a large number of coastal districts and states, (2) it has impacted significantly on coastal livelihoods in most states and (3) innovative approaches are needed to regulate the processes of salinization and to manage to live with it since it cannot be eliminated. There is a need therefore to have comprehensive view of coastal salinity to have a proper understanding of this important phenomenon. This understanding will provide useful insights into the problem, and help in formulating policy and programmes to deal with salinity effectively, and to protect and promote livelihood of people in salinity affected areas.

This book attempts to understand the salinity ingression in land and water resources on the Indian coast, and tries to understand the developments / changes taking place on the coast in general with a view to examining their impact on the livelihoods of coastal populations. This paper however is not limited to the issues of salinity, as it also discusses the issues related to the degradation of coastal resources and coastal ecosystems arising from human activities and natural processes on the coast.

The book is divided into four sections after this introduction: Section One provides a salinity profile of the coast; Section Two examines the changes taking on the coastal eco systems; Section Three examines the major changes taking place on the coast which have an impact on coastal environment; Sector Four examines the impact of the different changes and particularly the salinity-on the coastal life and livelihood, while section Five lists the major conclusions and assesses the recent policy changes in the content of the changes.

SANJAY RODE is Assistant professor, Department of Economics, S.K. Somaiya College of Arts, Commerce and Science, Mumbai. He teaches Development, International economics, Micro and Microeconomics, Public economics at Post-Graduate level. Research Areas of Interest: Maternal and Child Health, Applied Econometrics, Urban Poverty. Sanjay has written numerous papers and books including:

1 ‘The truth about hunger and diseases in Mumbai’ Economic and Political Weekly Vol.XXXVIII No.43 PP 4604-4610, October 25, 2003 - - with Neeraj Hatekar

2 ‘Malnutrition in Mumbai’ One India One People, September 2003 PP12-14.

3 ‘Determinants of RTIs/STIs prevalence among women in Haryana’ E-social sciences working papers/ Health Studies, December 2007.

4 ‘Institutional deliveries: A long perspective in Uttarkhand’ in IIPS edited book, population, environment and development of Uttarkhand.

5 ‘Double Burden of Malnutrition among Women in Maharashtra’ Submitted for publication to Esocialsciences.com

6 ‘Does demolition of slums affects on pre-school children’s health in Mumbai?’ Theoretical and Empirical Research in Urban Management, Number 1(10)/2009, PP 63-74.

7 ‘Safe and sustainable drinking water supply: Innovative policies lagging behind in India’

8 ‘Improving the welfare and productivity among the workers of small and household units in textile and garment sectors in India’, Economia. seria management , June 2009 issue

10 ‘Sustainable drinking water supply in Pune Metropolitan Region: Alternative policies’, Theoretical and Empirical Research in Urban Management, Special number 1 S/April 2009

11 "Drinking water supply management in Municipal corporations of Maharashtra" Global journal of Management and Business Research, Vol.10, issue 6 ver.1.0 August 2010, Page 5-19. )

12 Malnourishment among children in Mumbai City, LAP LAMBERT academic publishing, 19th July 2010


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