Ahmedabad: In a bid to provide protection to vital installations along the Gujarat coastline, the state government has undertaken a project to study how coastal vegetation could help in mitigating impact of natural disasters like tsunami and cyclone.
The Bio-shield project, being implemented by the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA), would be first carried out on pilot basis in the South Gujarat region where coastal vegetation including mangroves would be planted in an area and studied over a period of time.
It is also believed that presence of natural barriers along the coastline could also have a positive impact on soil erosion, salinity ingress and water pollution in the area.
"The bio-shield has been taken up with objective to see that there is adequate natural protection of industries and coast areas from the sea," Principal Secretary Environment and Forests S K Nanda said.
He said the project once finalised would be implemented on a public private partnership (PPP) model.
To develop an action plan for the bio-shield project, the government has roped in Prof Nikhil Desai heading the Geology department of M S University, Vadodara. Desai is also member of the GCZMA.
"We have been given a task to finalise the coastal stretch between Dahej in Bharuch and Hazira in Surat, where the project would be implemented on a pilot basis and suggest which plantations could be done besides mangroves," Desai said.
"The project is aimed at providing protection to industries located along the coastal areas. Vegetation along coasts like trees and mangroves reduce the speed of natural disasters like cyclone and Tsunami by creating a natural barrier or obstacle," Desai said.
"We will be proposing the project action plan and industries which have their base in these regions will be supporting its implementation," he said, adding they would be submitting the action plan within six months to the state environment and forest department.
"Based on the results of the pilot project, the decision regarding its replication in other parts of the over 1600 km coastline of Gujarat will be taken," Desai said.
Desai was of the opinion that increase in vegetation along the coastline could also take care of other problems in the areas like soil erosion and salinity ingress. However, these effects need to be studied thoroughly, he said.
Bio-shield projects have already been implemented in parts of Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu and Orissa.
Mangrove cultivation and other vegetation along coast helps fishing communities as fallen leaves release nutrients into the water supporting many species of fish.
Gujarat`s mangrove cover spread over 1080 sq km is the second largest in the country after West Bengal.
The state has number of vital installations along the sea coast which include Reliance and Essar oil refineries in Jamnagar, ONGC, NTPC, Kribhco and L&T along the Hazira belt
in South Gujarat, Somnath Temple in Junagadh, Dahej SEZ and others.