There is a tsunami threat to Mumbai, according to environment minister Ganesh Naik. “Tsunami waves could hit the island city of Mumbai anytime,” he told the legislative council on Thursday.
He followed it with a suggestion that the Marine Drive should have at least 1,000 feet of plantation of mangroves, Suru and Nilgiri trees to reduce the effects of tsunami, if and when it arrives.
Now, this is the same Ganesh Naik who had a few months back suggested that open spaces, including the Mahalaxmi Race Course, have no place in the city and could be developed to fill in the state coffers. He followed that with another idea - that the Coastal Regulation Zone should be gotten rid off.
But on Thursday, he probably endeared himself to the greens, as he also announced the constitution of a committee comprising national and international experts to study the repercussions of global warming in the state. “The cities on island face grievous threat of tsunami and, hence, Mumbai has to be more alert on this count. Increasing the level of the seabed is one of the measures that needs to be taken,” he said.
“We are also thinking of making the use of solar energy and rain water harvesting compulsory for housing societies in Mumbai,” he said.
Regarding the threat of tsunami, he said, “It has been observed that the island surrounded by the deep sea has lesser threat than the shallow sea-level island. The islands on shallow sea have vanished in the past and deepening of the seabed could be one of the measures. The deluge on July 26, 2005, in Mumbai was a result of the constricted riverbed as the water level was 4 metres above the level fixed by British administration 100 years ago.”
Dr Anish Andheria of Sanctuary said, “Every coastal city is under the threat of tsunami. Since it cannot be predicted, we cannot even take precautionary measures.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) compared the death toll from two villages in Sri Lanka that were hit by the devastating giant waves. Two people died in the settlement with dense mangrove and scrub forest, while up to 6,000 people died in the village without similar vegetation. Research has shown mangroves are able to absorb between 70-90 per cent of the energy from a normal wave. There is, however, no reliable data on how the trees mitigate the impact of a tsunami.
“Every coastline is exposed (to the threat of tsunami),” Dr Baban Ingole, a marine biologist with the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, said. “Considering India has a 7,000-km coastline, it is always advisable to be prepared.”
The National Institute of Oceanography website quotes Dr Arun Bapat, former chief research officer of the earthquake engineering wing of Indian Meteorology Department at Pune, as saying that a tsunami had risen from the Arabian Sea when an earthquake measuring 8.25 on the Richter scale was recorded some 100 km south of Karachi on November 27, 1945.
At Kandla, tsunami resulted in waves that were 12 metres high. The National Institute of Oceanography website quotes Dr Arun Bapat, former chief research officer of the earthquake engineering wing of Indian Meteorology Department at Pune, as saying that a tsunami had risen from the Arabian Sea when an earthquake measuring 8.25 on the Richter scale was recorded some 100 km south of Karachi on November 27, 1945. At Kandla, tsunami resulted in waves that were 12 metres high.
(with inputs from Deepa Suryanarayan and Ashwin Aghor)