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Green check-ups on the card for Gulf of Kutch

Times of India, Delhi, 24th August 2014


Identifying the future pressures on Gulf of Kutch, an initiative has been undertaken to carry out its environmental health check-up at regular intervals. The National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) and Gujarat Ecology Commission (GEC) have joined hands to execute cumulative environment impact assessment after every two to three years. A recent document underlines that with Kutch emerging as the crude oil import gateway of India there would be an increasing risk of oil spills and pipeline leaks to the marine environment. It states, "This, combined with increasing energy and resource demands from a growing population that will in itself generate more waste, poses a significant management challenge that will be further exacerbated by additional stresses of climate change (increasing temperatures, variable rainfall patterns and rising sea levels)."


The document 'Gulf of Kachchh: A Framework for the Cumulative Environmental Impact Assessment' calls for quantification of current pressures using demographic data, effluent loading and model information. It also suggests that comprehensive evaluation of future pressures through GIS analysis of future development from planning documents be taken up. Both, the NCSCM and GEC while pointing at the current pressures on the area have pointed that Gujarat's coasts are facing a rush of rapid urban and industrial development. Approximately 70% of India's crude oil is imported through Vadinar and Sikkaalong with some smaller facilities in the Gulf of Kutch.


"The region also has two of the world's largest refineries, several expanding towns and industrial centres as well as India's largest salt industry. It is primarily human activities such as these that challenge the viability of the Gulf marine ecosystem," the report states. "We have identified hotspots of vulnerability in the area that has been divided into nine sectors," said an official. The five pressures identified for assessment in each of these sectors are sewage and urban waste, agricultural runoff, turbidity, saltpan discharge and industrial development.