Coastal erosion: Expert panel ‘washed out’ before critical meet

The state government has dissolved a special task force set up to study the problem of coastal erosion in parts of south Gujarat and Saurashtra,within eight months of its appointment and days before a crucial meeting.

Written by KapilDave | Gandhinagar | Published:April 5, 2012 3:09 am

The state government has dissolved a special task force set up to study the problem of coastal erosion in parts of south Gujarat and Saurashtra,within eight months of its appointment and days before a crucial meeting.

The State Narmada,Water Resources,Water Supply & Kalpasar department that constituted the task force in August last year,issued an order to dissolve the task-force on March 30,days before it was to hold a crucial meeting on April 5.

Sources said the body was dissolved because the members did not agree with

its chairman Dr B Nagendra Kumar,a former scientist

of National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT),Chennai,and a key consultant for the ambitious Kalpasar dam project.

They said Kumar had begun promoting the Sediment Accumulation in Beach (SAB) technology for Gujarat’s coasts and forced the government to buy it while other members insisted that this technology was not suitable for Gujarat as it had a different geography.

“The chairperson himself handed over a project based on this technology on behalf of the task-force instead of actually studying ground needs and taking local people into confidence. Even after six months there was no actual progress on this critical issue so the government decided to dissolve the body for now,” said a source.

S J Desai,secretary (water resources),said,“There was no substantial development as per the government’s expectations on the issue. The task force had not submitted any observation and suggestion report. So considering the urgency of the issue,the government has decided to form a new task force comprising more experts as early as possible.”

On the complaints against Kumar,Desai said,“We have received complaints on the issue and we will decide (on them) soon.”

One of the members of the dissolved body said,“The chairman was just promoting his own technology,which is yet not tested on the actual scale. He has tested it on a Chennai beach while Gujarat’s coastal erosion is of different type. Massive land erosion,loss of natural wall of mangrove etc.,are main issues,which needed scientific investigation and suitable solution. Blind adoption of any technology can not serve the actual problem.”

Rajesh Doshi,marine engineer and a key technical member of the dissolved task force,welcomed the decision to form a new body. “It was unfortunate that the government appointed a chairman in hurry who did not have a clear track record,” said Doshi.

The other members of the body were J K Vyas,director (environment); S K Chaturvedi,chief conservator of forest,Valsad; Atul Sharma,environment engineer,Gujarat Maritime Board; C V Nadarpara,chief engineer and additional secretary (Narmada Water Resources,Water Supply Department); and V K Sarvaiya,chief engineer and additional secretary (NWRWS).

Sources close to the development said the government might have spent around Rs 25 lakh on salaries and other administrative expenses of the dissolved task force.

The 310-km long coastline of south Gujarat,covering Surat,Navsari and Valsad districts,is the most vulnerable and has been experiencing extensive erosion for the last 10 years,as it receives direct wave attacks from the Arabian Sea.

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