Climate change might be a subject of debate for scientists, environmentalists and the rest of the world, but for the coastal community in the country, it’s a matter of life and deathSelvaprakash L email@example.com
“Catch has reduced to one-tenth in the last 15 years. It is not enough to feed our families,” said Johanson, a fisherman leader from Tuticorin. He is one among the 250 million people living within 50 metres of the Indian coastline — a region most vulnerable to climate change.
The altered climate pattern has drastically hit their source of livelihood. Fishermen find that the wind and water current patterns have changed. Precise reasons for these changes are not yet known, but their impact is loud and clear. Rapid industrialisation is underway in this coastline with a smattering of power plants, salt-based factories, fertiliser plants, and copper smelters. Already, the existing industries dump untreated effluents and domestic sewage into the sea, directly hitting marine productivity and depleting the mangrove forests along the coast. The ongoing construction along the shore also changes the wave patterns, leading to rapid coastal erosion.
Over the last 30 years, close to 1,500 metres of beach, including entire rows of houses, has been lost. Scope for education has become remoter, with the sea claiming one chunk of the school at Iraimandurai.
The mouth of river Tharamibharani has narrowed down. The changed wind and currents have increased soil deposition here to an extent such that only one boat can pass through at one time. Two villagers of Punna Kayil died when their boats collided at the river mouth last year.
Climate change might be a subject of debate and concern for scientists, environmentalists and the rest of the world, but for the coastal community, it’s a matter of life and death.