Oceanographic validity of buffer zones for the east coast of India: A hydrometeorological perspective
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Relentless hydrometeorological events are the major natural hazards that have afflicted the inhabitants of the east coast. Storm surges have attained a height of 12 m, and provoked sea water invasion 35 km inland. Loss of life (10,000 people in 1977) and destruction of property (12 lakh houses in 1999) are devastating. Monetary loss of a single event touched 2248 crore rupees. Flattening of sand dunes, removal of coastal forests, reclamation of wetlands, inappropriate layout of buildings and roads reduce the inherent functional potential of ecosystems and correspondingly enhance the degree of risk. Abandoning vulnerable coasts, managed retreat, or safer setback with intervening forested landforms are feasible long-term options. The Coastal Regulation Zone dos not protect low-lands prone to inundations due to storm surges; hence adaptation rather than mitigation should be the key of hazard management. A public policy that identifies coastal geological processes, recognizes the protective value of coastal landforms, acknowledges mandatory buffer zones and considers options for adaptation, is the sustainable alternative to attenuate the ravages of hydrometeorological events.
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