Kutch could be an island again: report

AHMEDABAD: which was an island in the distant past, can be surrounded by water again in the next 30 years. By 2050, the rising sea can also enter the limits of the city of Surat, warns a study published on October 29 in the journal 'Nature Communications'.

The study titled New Triple Estimates of Elevation Data from Global Vulnerability to Sea Level Increase and Coastal Floods by Scott A Kulp and Benjamin H Strauss warns that around 34 million people worldwide would be affected by the increase from sea level. The sea is expected to rise to two meters by 2050.

India is one of eight Asian countries, others are China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Japan, which would represent 70% of the affected population.

Gujarat, with the longest coast in India, 1,617 km, would withstand the worst part of climate change and sea level rise, according to the map published by the researchers. The districts of Kutch, Surat, Bhavnagar and Bharuch would be the most affected. The entrance to the sea is projected in the municipal limits of the cities of Surat and Bhavnagar. The petrochemical centers of Dahej and Hazira and the port of Kandla would be among other key areas affected by the phenomenon.

The impact is likely to be moderate to minor in the districts of Surendranagar, Morbi, Jamnagar, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Porbandar, Junagadh, Amreli, Anand, Navsari and Valsad.

Previously, several studies had predicted the adverse impact of climate change and sea level rise on the coast of Gujarat, including those of the Space Research Organization of India and the National Center for Sustainable Coastal Management. The report in Nature Communications, for the first time, states that the projected impact would be five to ten times greater than expected in 2050 and 2100.

However, the researchers mentioned that they only considered the elevation and not the coastal defenses, such as dikes or dikes. The study also details the impact of sea level rise beyond sea entry.

Local experts say the report is a wake-up call, especially after years of degradation of coastal areas, loss of mangroves, uncontrolled mining activities and exploitation of group waters that have already resulted in high salinity.

Apoorva Oza, CEO of the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (India), said that the entrance to the sea could damage Gujarat on multiple levels. “From the lack of availability of drinking water and irrigation water for agriculture to the livelihood of thousands of people can be affected. At a time when the projections represent the worst case scenario, the need for time is to map the vulnerable areas and start acting today to save our tomorrow, ”he said.