Between 1990 and 2016, India lost 235 square km of land to coastal erosion. Of this, 28%, or 66 square km, fell in Karnataka.
This widespread erosion has upended the lives of the state’s coastal communities, in places like Honnavar taluk. But as Meenakshi Kapoor and Mahabaleshwar Hegde write in Common Ground, it isn’t just the loss of land that has caused distress and confusion, but also the question of rights over land newly formed by deposits of sand from the sea.
Exacerbating these complex problems is the government’s failure to formulate and implement sound policies for the welfare of those who are affected by coastal erosion.
“Coastal ecology is a fine balance of interactions between the river, the sea and the shoreline,” the writers noted. “The current hyper-development model is disrupting this delicate balance and impacting coastal communities negatively. The lack of an empathetic, inclusive government response adds to communities’ hardship.”
They added, “The crucial step that is needed is for the government to identify areas vulnerable to erosion and notify them as such.”