Odisha to map coastal stretches vulnerable to tidal surges

Increased frequency and intensity of the cyclones has made it vital to strengthen embankments

The Odisha government has directed engineers of its Water Resources Department to prepare an action plan for the coastal stretches of the State, which are highly vulnerable to storm surges, within a month.

The State plans to raise saline and flood embankments along the coast to prevent tidal surges from inundating human habitations. As there is every possibility of increased frequency and intensity of the cyclones in the future, raising and strengthening of embankments has become vital.

While taking stock of the chances of coastal inundation in a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, the making of an action plan in consultation with local people to strengthen flood embankments was stressed.

“Raising the height of the embankments would save people from tidal surges and inundation in future,” Mr. Mohapatra said.

The Chief Secretary also directed the identification of “at risk” areas from where permanent evacuation appeared to be the only scientific solution.

“With around 17% (480 km) of India’s coastline, Odisha faces around 35% of cyclonic storms along with tidal surges. The State is the sixth most cyclone prone area of the world. There are also flat terrains with fertile agricultural land with dense population adjacent to the coastline,” said Anu Garg, Secretary, Water Resources.

She said that as per the review, around 1,636 km of saline protection embankments, and 5,864 km of flood protection embankments, had been built in the last few years, mostly in districts such as Ganjam, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore.

In the last ten years, Odisha has faced seven very severe to extremely severe cyclones. The coastal belt witnessed tidal surges of 3.5 metres to 4.5 metres during cyclones, thereby causing large-scale saline inundation.

Development Commissioner Pradeep Kumar Jena asked for a scientific assessment of coastal geo-physical features for locating areas where an engineering intervention could be a solution.

During a review meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi following cyclone Yaas earlier this year, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had emphasised the need for creating robust structures to save people as well as agriculture from tidal surges.

Also Read: Ripples from Cyclone Yaas and surging tides devastate the Sunderbans

According to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the port town of Paradip in Odisha is among 12 Indian coastal towns that are at a greater risk of being submerged by a rise in sea levels.

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