19 Goa beaches face erosion threat; experts call for urgent mitigation plans

Panaji: Goa’s beaches are under increasing threat of erosion and the phenomenon may impact its tourism economy in the years to come. Experts have called for urgent intervention and the need to create short term and long term plans to safeguard the state’s coastline.

Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences Dr Jitendra Singh told the Lok Sabha earlier this month that 19.2 percent of Goa’s 103 km long coastline was facing the threat of erosion, which includes some of the top beaches in the state like Anjuna, Keri-Tiracol, Morjim in North Goa and Agonda, Betalbatim, Majorda in South Goa.

According to the Goa government’s water resources department statistics, as many as 19 beaches in the state face the threat of erosion.

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The authorities have embarked on measures like building protection walls, reinforcing erosion-affected areas with tetra-pods, geo-fibre barriers to salvage affected areas. However, according to Sujeet Dongre of the Centre for Environment Education and a member of the state government’s Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority, there was scope for a lot more planning in order to combat the erosion threat.

“Whichever area is more prone to such erosion, we have to ensure that it is protected by rejuvenating beach ecosystems, sand dunes and ensure that beach vegetation is not tampered with. In the long term, we need more research data. There is also a need to undertake mechanical and biological means of protection of such areas,” Dongre said.

In the absence of mining, the tourism industry has been the backbone of the state’s economy accounting for more than a quarter of the state’s gross domestic product. And while erosion is a common phenomenon along the country’s coastline, in Goa it gains relevance because of the state’s overwhelming dependence on the tourism industry for revenue and employment generation.

Just before the advent of Covid, nearly 8 million tourists visited Goa’s beaches, while the construction of a new airport at Mopa in North Goa could bring a few million more visitors, according to government estimates.

Environment experts have called for a detailed study of the carrying capacity of Goa’s beaches. Some years back Manguesh Nagararan, a senior faculty at the Goa Institute of Management, among the nation’s premier B-Schools, said that 1.47 lakh people could become jobless in Goa in the wake of rising sea levels which he said have already begun to show, estimating that the state could lose as much as 30 percent of its economic activity due to global warming. Faced with the threat the state government has also written to the Pune-based Central Water and Power Research station to recommend a solution to check the erosion of Goa’s popular beaches and remedial measures to be undertaken in order to arrest erosion.

Dongre said there was a need to protect the existing biological ecosystem on the beaches, especially sand dunes, which he said serve as a protective barrier against cyclones.

“The sandy portion, landward-side dunes are very important. They serve as a protective zone. They not only provide protection from cyclones, but they also stabilise beaches,” Dongre said.

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