Rs 2K crore allocated for coastal livelihood, to prevent erosion

Muthupet, also called Land of Pearls, is part of Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary and is home to one of the largest contiguous mangrove forests in the country.

Published: 21st March 2023 07:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st March 2023 12:08 PM   |  A+A-

The TN Coastal Restoration Mission has been announced to prevent sea erosion and conserve marine biodiversity at `2,000 crore in the next five years | EXPRESS

Image used for representative purpose only. (File photo | EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: M Shankar, 52, a fourth-generation fisherman in Thanjavur who has been trying to revive the dying Muthupet mangroves, has found renewed hope as the budget has included implementation of Tamil Nadu Coastal Restoration Mission to protect the livelihood of coastal population, prevent coastal erosion and conserve marine biodiversity. The mission will be implemented with World Bank assistance by spending `2,000 crore in the next 5 years.

Muthupet, also called Land of Pearls, is part of Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary and is home to one of the largest contiguous mangrove forests in the country. Muthupet mangrove forest is vital for Tamil Nadu's fight against climate change and sea erosion, however, this crucial ecosystem has turned into a graveyard after cyclone Gaja destroyed close to 60% out of 11,886 hectares. Even five years later, not much has been done to revive it except for carrying mangrove planting in a few hundreds of hectares.     

Shankar, president of the Maravakkadu Village Forest Council, told TNIE that if the government restores Muthupet mangrove forest, which is going to be a humongous task, three coastal districts Thiruvarur, Thanjavur and Nagapattinam will become a natural shield against all kinds of natural calamities. 

As per the Shoreline Changes Assessment done by Chennai-based National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), close to 43% (422.94 km) of Tamil Nadu coastline is experiencing erosion and 1,802.31 hectares has been lost to erosion. Thiruvarur district, because of Muthupet mangroves degradation is among the worst affected, is classified as high-erosion district losing 176 hectares between 1990 and 2018.   

Environment secretary Supriya Sahu told TNIE, as per the Indian State of Forest Report, 2021, Tamil Nadu currently has mangrove cover of 44.94, of which very dense mangrove is only 1.11 "The government is planning to add another 67.8 of mangrove area in the next 5 years. The bulk of the work (30.5 would be carried out in the Muthupet," she said.      

Sahu said the new mission will also have a focussed approach towards the problem of microplastics and protection of marine biodiversity. "The government has already commissioned a comprehensive assessment of microplastics in coastal areas, estuaries in Tamil Nadu to consider remedial and management action for improving environmental quality."

Edward Patterson, director of Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute (SDMRI), which is carrying out microplastics study, told TNIE: "We have done sampling in 112 locations across Tamil Nadu, including all estuaries, few important inland lakes etc during both summer and winter seasons. The data is being analysed. As per the preliminary assessment, the districts on Coromandel coast like Chennai, Cuddalore have more of this problem."   

Overall, the budget has been very productive for the Environment, Climate Change and Forest Department with a total outlay of Rs 1,248 crore. The State is expected to continue on its path of green revolution. 

Important announcements
1. International Bird Centre at Marakkanam -  `25 crore 
2. 500 women SHGs to be provided electric autos to lead green campaign- `20 crore 
3. Setting up 417 artificial reefs - `143 crore


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