10 Dec 2023 | 04:03am IST
SAND EROSION and vanishing SAND DUNES
A recent report from the ‘National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management’ (NCSCM) unveiled concerning findings about sand erosion in Goa. Out of 41 surveyed beaches, 22 have witnessed significant erosion, totalling 1,22,176.44 square meters. This revelation, presented in the Lok Sabha, highlights the urgency of addressing coastal challenges and underscoring the multifaceted nature that is shaping Goa’s beaches. Environmentalists are particularly concerned about the destruction of sand dunes and warn of the consequences the State’s coastline will face if corrective measures are not taken immediately KARSTEN MIRANDA reports
uring December, Goan
families residing abroad return to their homeland. The older generation among
them like to share the uniqueness of Goa with their children by visiting
various places that showcase what they love about the State their ancestors
grew up in.
they face the unfortunate reality that the once-existent sand dunes on the
beaches have nearly disappeared. In their youth, they would joyfully ascend the
slopes of these sand dunes, engaging in playful games.
these cherished memories are now mere echoes, leaving their children without
the opportunity to witness the sand dunes in their former glory.
in December, attention was drawn to the plight of Goa’s beaches, which are
grappling with sand erosion—a growing concern voiced by coastal communities
reliant on tourism or traditional occupations. A report from the ‘National
Center for Sustainable Coastal Management’ (NCSCM) in Chennai revealed that 22
out of 41 beaches surveyed in Goa, have experienced significant sand erosion,
totalling 1,22,176.44 square meters.
study was tabled by the Union Minister of State (MoS) for Environment, Forest
and Climate Change, Ashwini Kumar Choubey in a written reply in the Lok Sabha
earlier this month.
the study delved into accretion, the process of coastal sediment reemerging
after submersion, across certain beach stretches.
perspective, the remaining 19 of the 41 beaches experienced both erosion and
accretion simultaneously. Nonetheless, 13 beaches faced erosion exclusively,
accounting for a total of 1,09,483.66 sq m.
this, Colva leads with the highest amount of sand erosion 22,563.7 (sq m),
followed by Mandrem (15,829.25 sq m); Ashvem 12,734.77 (sq m), Querim
(10,403.88 sq m), Cansaulim (8,377.57 sq m), Sinquerim 8,339.79 (sq m),
Betalbatim 8,310.65 sq m), Sernabatim 7,670.26 sq m), Velsao (5,670.13 sq m),
Talpona (5,659.62 sq m), Canaguinim (2,360.52 sq m), Patnem 1,265.84 sq m) and
Utorda (297.62 sq m).
his reply in parliament, MoS Choubey highlighted that all affected states in
India have been directed to finalize their 2019 Coastal Zone Management Plans
(CZMPs) in accordance with the CRZ notification 2019. This includes mapping
erosion-prone areas and developing Shoreline Management Plans for identified
stretches experiencing erosion. The ministry has provided technical support
for designing coastal protection measures and preparing Shoreline Management
Plans in vulnerable areas.
the Union environment ministry has established a hazard line for the entire
Indian coast, indicative of shoreline changes, including those related to
sea-level rise due to climate change. This line serves as a tool for Disaster
Management, aiding in the planning of adaptive and mitigation measures by
coastal state agencies.
a study by the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) has monitored shoreline
changes for the entire Indian coastline from 1990 to 2018. The findings reveal
that 33.6% of the Indian coastline is vulnerable to erosion, 26.9% is
experiencing accretion, and 39.6% remains stable. The study underscores that
shoreline changes result from both natural and human activities, with the
receding coastline posing a threat to land, habitat, and the livelihoods of
fishermen, impacting boat parking, net mending, and fishing
Goa govt’s response
State government has tied up with a Netherlands-based company called Deltares,
to carry out a study to evaluate the causes of erosion on Goa’s beaches in
relation to local wave-driven currents, storm/ cyclone erosion, and discharge
at river mouths.
under the aegis of the State’s Environment department, the Goa Coastal and
Environment Management Society, will implement the ambitious project to
rejuvenate the beach stretches from Majorda to Betalbatim in South Goa.
pilot project involves the implementation of the innovative Sand Motor
experiment, originally developed by Deltares.
approach involves depositing an immense volume of sand extracted offshore
along the coastline in a single operation, resulting in the creation of a
strategically shaped peninsula. Over time, natural processes redistribute the
sand, forming a buffer against sea level rise, storm surges and coastal
the pan-Goa study to be carried out by Deltares, the Environment Department
received a detailed proposal from the Dutch company, which will support local
agencies in their studies on the local coastal morphology and their
knowledge-basis for decision-making on mitigation measures.
will support the modelling of the morphological system via collaborative
efforts with the aim of obtaining a quantification of the sediment transport
per the proposal, a three-day visit has been planned to the area with two
will assess the local situation from literature and in-house data. The aim is
to provide a conceptual overview of the functioning of the local morphological
system, create a joint understanding of the causes of erosion, confirm the approach
and perform first capacity building on the relevant coastal processes. We can
check the site characteristics and meet local authorities and stakeholders. We
will summarise the discussed approach and further detail this in a concise
report,” read the proposal.
will guide them with the setup of a wave model and support their coastal morphological
analysis. We will provide capacity building on coastline modelling and follow
this up, through email and video, for the assessment/modelling of the case
study by the local agency. Depending on the capacities of the local agency, we
will take up some of the technical tasks,” the proposal added.
work will be carried out in collaboration with National Institute of
Oceanography (NIO) and NCCR,” former Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral had
stated recently during a Goa Legislative Assembly session.
had then also stated that the Water Resources Department (WRD) has entrusted
the study of Goa coast for its behaviour, erosion pediment transportation to
National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) in the year 2021 underworld bank
funded National Hydrology Project.
has carried out Anti-beach erosion measures have been majorly initiated at
Keri-Pernem by using tetrapods, Coco-beach at Nerul, Bardez by Concrete Blocks
and Khanaginim beach with stones to mitigate the coast erosion caused by
vagaries of the sea waves,” Cabral had stated.
Greens see Red!
considered pristine, Goa’s coastal zone has undergone significant geological
and ecological transformations, with environmentalists attributing these changes
to human interference and the authorities’ lackadaisical attitude. The
destruction of age-old sand dune ecosystems, once Nature’s defence against
ocean forces like cyclones and tsunamis, has raised concerns.
experts emphasize the vital role of sand dunes as “sand banks” maintaining the
dynamic equilibrium of the beach. They point to the urgency for the government
to prioritise the conservation and restoration of these dunes, crucial for
protecting the expansive 105 sq km coastal area. Referring to studies by NIO
and NCSCM, experts connect the deterioration of sand dunes to development and
tourism activities along the coastal belts.
and again, we have reiterated that the coast of Goa is under assault. Tourism
and related human activities are a major cause. Several coastal areas have
changed from virtual wilderness in 1970’s to haphazardly developed stretches,
full of concrete buildings and related structures, in the last 30 years. The
Baga - Candolim coast is a classic example of frenzied development,” said Dr
Antonio Mascarenhas, scientist who was earlier with the National Institute of
Oceanography (NIO), Dona Paula and the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority
is to be noted that the Coastal Regulation Zone, 2011 declared sand dunes as
CRZ I (a) areas, which are ecologically sensitive and has ensured a restriction
of development activities along the dune areas.
explained that the dune environment is classified as fragile, sensitive and
vulnerable due to its propensity for changes under even slight environmental
stress. “Despite that, its onslaught continues with authorities being least
bothered,” he said.
Barreto, member of the citizens’ group, Calangute Constituency Forum (CCF),
said that several roads laid perpendicular to the coast and across dune belts
in Calangute have severely altered, razed, levelled and eliminated a large
number of dunes He also said that for construction of various tourism
facilities like toilets and parking lots, sand dunes are destroyed.
to cases that have occurred in Candolim and Calangute, he asscerted that the
GCZMA, which grants permissions for temporary structures, has to be more
proactive in checking whether the applicant sets up temporary or permanent
concrete structures. He said that there are far better ways to promote tourism
while also protecting and conserving ecology.
may be recalled that last year, Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had
tabled its report titled ‘Conservation of Coastal Ecosystem’ in Parliament,
which come down heavily on GCZMA and pointed out that despite the existence of
sand dunes, it gave permissions for infrastructure development and construction
of hotels and residential houses along the beach stretches vulnerable to sand
dunes leading to its destruction.
an example, CAG observed that the construction of four-lane National Highway
17 B from Varunapuri to Sada Junction near Baina Beach was recommended by the
authority in 2015 despite observations of the site inspection team that Baina
Beach contained sand dunes covered with vegetation and that it was prone to annual
cycles of erosion which made it ecologically sensitive and construction will
disturb the ecological stability of sensitive beach.
another concerning note, environmentalists have also alleged that the CZMP
that was approved by the State of Goa and sent to the Centre has an extensive
amount of sand dunes missing from it despite the same having been verified in
the ground truthing exercise that was conducted.
Almeida of the Colva Civic and Consumer Forum (CCCF) for instance pointed out
that this flip flop on the existence or nonexistence of sand dunes had paved
the way for GCZMA to grant permissions.
feared that in the future, it will be up to green activists to challenge the
CZMP as otherwise, there could be similar cases where sand dunes across beaches
in Goa will be shown as non-existent and approvals will be then granted for
projects on these beaches.
also lamented that GCZMA is not attending to complaints on time leading to a
piling up of pending cases.
want the GCZMA to follow its policy as well as directions from the National
Green Tribunals regarding Beach Carrying Capacities across the coast wherein
permissions cannot be given if the beach areas have exceeded its respective
there are a series of complaints about sand dune destruction in the Salcete
coastal belt, pertaining to the beaches of Sernabatim, Benaulim and Varca, for
which inspections have been carried out and efforts are underway to see that
these sand dunes are restored and action is taken against those who have
destroyed the same.