(MENAFN- IANS) By Mohammed Shafeeq
Visakhapatnam, April 2 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh's extensive coastline is facing climate change challenges in the form of frequent cyclones, coastal erosion, rising sea levels and increasing ocean temperature while scientists have already warned that Visakhapatnam is among the six Indian cities that are potentially vulnerable to coastal flooding if the sea levels rise by 50 cm as a result of global warming.
Andhra Pradesh has the second longest mainland coastline with a total length of 974 km from Ichchapuram in Srikakulam district to Tada of Nellore district,
Experts say the rise of sea level and sea water temperature in Bay of Bengal is having an impact on the state's coastline. However, the extent of the impact is yet to be determined.
Rising temperature is leading to not just frequent cyclones but also affecting marine species and impacting fishing communities by reducing fishing days, damaging houses and fishing gear.
Abnormality of cyclones is attributed to global warming and climate change. Visakhapatnam, the biggest city in the state and the proposed state capital, has experienced eight severe cyclonic storms since 2014.
Vizag, as the port city is also known, was battered by very severe cyclonic storm 'Hudhud' on October 12, 2014. For the first time in modern history the city witnessed an unparalleled natural calamity.
With wind speed of 165 kmph during landfall, 'Hudhud' caused widespread devastation in the city and other parts of north coastal Andhra killing 60 people and uprooting thousands of trees, electricity poles and destroying the civic infrastructure. It took weeks for normalcy to be restored in the city.
The vulnerability was again evident in May 2020 when Cyclone 'Amphan', strongest storm recorded in decades in Bay of Bengal, hit the coast forcing several million to evacuate
Experts say global warming has rendered monsoon erratic and extreme and is giving way to high intensity thunderstorms which will increase the possibility of flash floods and landslides. Moreover, during thunderstorms, the rainfall is quick and high and this also increases the sea levels.
Melting of the glaciers due to global warming is also causing the sea level to rise. Different factors are likely to lead to flooding of the coastal cities and regions
Experts are of the view that huge disparity in the temperature of the land and the ocean may lead to formation of many cyclonic storms, which will have the potential to develop into very severe cyclonic storms. Strong winds and high rainfall will lead to an increase in the sea level.
About 28.7 per cent of the beaches in Andhra Pradesh are eroding, revealed Status of Andhra Pradesh Shoreline Changes along the Indian Coast (1990-2018) report by the National Centre for Coastal Research.
According to the report, 21.7 per cent beaches are stable and 49.6 per cent are accreting.
Human intervention, particularly urbanization and economic activities, in the coastal zone has turned coastal erosion into a problem of growing intensity. Activities like construction of coastal structures, mining of beach sand, offshore dredging and damming of rivers are triggering shoreline changes.
Uppada, Visakhapatnam, Machilipatnam and the delta regions of Krishna and Godavari district and Krishnapatnam are some of the areas impacted by coastal erosion.
The reasons for coastal erosion are both manmade and natural. The geographical factors include action of waves, tides, winds, nearshore currents, storms and sea level rise.
Sea level has risen about 40 cm in the past century and is projected to rise another 60 cm in the next century. Due to global warming, average rise in sea level of 1.5 to 10 mm per year.
Sea level rise of 1 mm per year could cause inundation of the order of 0.5 m per year.
As per the report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Visakhapatnam is one among six Indian cities that could be exposed to coastal flooding if the sea levels rise by 50 cm due to global warming.
According to the report, the city will be under 3 feet of sea water due to rising sea levels by the end of the century.
However, some experts believe that Vizag is unlikely to be submerged because of its geographic location. The city is surrounded by hilly terrain of Eastern Ghats.
While low-lying and some other areas may be under threat, hills and hillocks may protect the city from flooding.
Vizag currently has a population of more than 20 lakh and projected population growth rate of the city is 2.35 per cent per cent. As the state government plans to make Vizag the executive capital of the state, the population is likely to grow further.
Some experts believe that coastal cities Machilipatnam and Kakinada are facing a bigger threat due to the very small difference between the land mass and the sea.
The Government of India released the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in 2008 as part of an ambitious domestic action plan to address climate change. The NAPCC focuses on adapting to climate change and protecting the vulnerable sections of society through an inclusive and sustainable development strategy that also enhances ecological sustainability and innovation.
Most of the adaptation challenges such as coastal zone disasters, droughts, adverse effect on human health, depleting water resources, are experienced at the state level and programmes aimed at improving the adaptive ability are also undertaken and implemented at state level.
In November last year, the Andhra Pradesh government created an exclusive Climate Change Cell (CCC) in its Environment, Forests, Science and Technology Department to implement a state action plan and make it 'climate resilient through improved climate change governance.
The state will come out with a Climate Change State Action plan, on the lines of the National Action Plan for Climate Change, and the CCC will be tasked with its implementation.
According to Special Chief Secretary (EFST Department) Neerabh Kumar Prasad coastal zone disasters (cyclones), drought, adverse human health effects and depleting water resources are some of the challenges Andhra Pradesh faces.
"Climate change poses a challenge to sustainability of social and economic development, livelihoods of communities and environmental management in Andhra Pradesh. Building capacities for climate change actions (mitigation and adaptation) to make Andhra Pradesh a climate resilient State through improved climate change governance and services linking climate science, policies and people are very important in the present context," he said.
The cell will focus on mitigation of climate change and protect the vulnerable sections of society through an inclusive and sustainable development strategy that also enhances ecological sustainability.
The CCC will coordinate the preparation of Climate Change State Action plan and take focused steps to implement the same, besides liaising with the Government of India, external funding agencies and different departments of State government to identify projects and schemes for implementation of the Climate Change State Action Plan.
The ongoing schemes in the EFS&T Department -- Green Climate Fund (GCF), Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP) -- will be transferred to be implemented and monitored through the cell, as part of implementation of the Climate Change Action Plan.