BHUBANESWAR: With tropical cyclones becoming frequent in the State and coastal districts witnessing high tidal surges, the Odisha government has asked the Water Resources department to prepare an action plan for strengthening the saline and flood embankments. Around 1,636 km of saline embankments and 5,864 km of flood protection embankments have been built mostly in the districts of Ganjam, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore. The existing embankments are not enough to prevent large scale saline inundation during cyclones.
The issue was discussed at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Suresh Mahapatra here on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. On the changing coastal characteristics and existing infrastructure for checking tidal surges, Principal Secretary of Water Resources department Anu Garg said, “With around 17 per cent of coastline (480 km), Odisha faces around 35 per cent of the cyclonic storm along with tidal surge. The State is the sixth most cyclone-prone area of the world.”
She said that the State had faced seven very severe to extreme severe cyclones with a tidal surge of 3.5 mtr to 4.5 mtr in the last 10 years. In view of the increasing frequency and intensity with which tropical cyclones are hitting the State, there is an urgent need for further strengthening of the embankments. There are also flat terrains with fertile agricultural land and a dense population adjacent to the coastline. Tidal ingress caused large scale damage to property and agriculture, she added.
The Chief Secretary asked the department to identify the vulnerable locations and tracts where there would be a probability of tidal ingress to the land. Strengthening the saline and flood embankments by raising height would save life and livelihood from tidal surges and inundations. Development Commissioner Pradeep Jena suggested a scientific assessment of the coastal geo-physical features for the areas where engineering intervention could be a solution.
Meanwhile, a detailed project report (DPR) has been prepared under the supervision of the department for the first phase of construction of a 380 km saline embankment at a projected cost of Rs 1,944 crore. This is part of the Rs 20,000 package submitted to the Centre for assistance to build a disaster-resilient infrastructure along the coastline.