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Goa’s Eroding Coast

Absence of a vision to protect eco-systems of the beaches

Goa’s coastline has taken all kinds of beatings. The damages to some of the beaches have been serious. In this light, a comprehensive study on erosion along the coastline of Goa by the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) could point to the government the ways in which they should move to remedy the situation. The NIO study will be done at the instance of the Central Water Commission. Over the past few decades, several beaches along the state’s 105-km coastline have been affected by erosion. Beaches in Pernem and Bardez talukas in North Goa were more prone to erosion. Erosion has affected beaches in Salcete and Canacona talukas of South Goa. Coastal erosion is there at Morjim, Baga, Calangute, Sinquerim, Anjuna, Candolim, Coco and Dona Paula in North Goa and Colva, Polem and Palolem in South Goa. Experts believe that some of Goa’s beaches could disappear if immediate efforts were not made to protect them. Anjuna, which used to be one of the most beautiful beaches with platforms of rocks, today presents a horrid picture.  

The NIO study is to be conducted over a three-year period in all climatic conditions during which its scientists are to measure the waves and the currents along with making other observations to come to a conclusion on what precipitates erosion. The process to study the conditions is expected to begin after the monsoon. According to government data, 21 stretches along the state’s coast have been affected by erosion. The state government has taken measures to arrest coastal erosion along two major stretches at Colva and Coco beaches, which have been badly affected. The affected areas have been reinforced with flexible barriers called ‘geo-tubes’ which stop land being undercut by erosion. However, the measures have not yielded the desired results. The NIO study will find the factors responsible for coastal erosion, based on which the central and state governments can take short-term and long-term measures to remedy the damages.

The National Centre for Coastal Research, which surveyed 6,031 km of India’s 7,517-km coastline between 1990 and 2016, found that 33 per cent of coastline has suffered erosion, most of it along the eastern coast. Though 2,156 km saw erosion, there was accretion in 1,941 km on the shores. Scientists have attributed erosion to natural causes such as tsunami in (2004), cyclones and tidal waves, as well as human activities like construction. Goa saw 15 to 18 per cent sand erosion during the study period. Sand dunes, which play a very crucial role in the coastal ecology, have virtually disappeared. As coastal areas were prone to periodical erosion it is necessary that the central and state governments have regular studies for knowing the causes of the phenomenon, mapping the coastline, identifying areas vulnerable to high tides and rising sea levels. Though the NIO study will be covering coastal erosion, the fact is Goa also has been facing soil erosion also along the riverine areas, especially along Colvale and Talpona rivers. The river shores should also be studied and corrective measures taken to prevent

erosion there.

Scientists have pointed to the fact that erosion along the state’s coast has intensified over the years, which poses risks to the ecology of the coastline as well as human life. The consequences of erosion can range from simple loss of coastal areas to irreparable damage to that of houses and other structures near the shore. The state government has been too occupied with the returns from tourism and catering to the political constituencies of MLAs from the coastal belt that protect and promote all sorts of activities that are detrimental to the coastal ecology. The government should have given top priority to prevention measures such as protecting sand dunes, vegetation, seawalls, sandbags and sand fences in areas prone to erosion. Beaches are the lifeline of tourism in Goa. If they go, the main attraction to tourists goes. The state government need not wait for the recommendations of the NIO study for taking preventive measures. They must rededicate themselves to the vision of growing beach tourism without damaging the beaches.

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