Eco study assesses tsunami damage

A two-phase ecological study was being carried out to assess the impact of tsunami on the Indian coasts, Union Minister for Environment and Forests Mr A. Raja said yesterday.

Inaugurating a two-day international conference on tsunami disaster management and coastal development organised by the Madras Development Society (MDS) he said ”in the first phase, we carried out a rapid assessment of the ecological damage or changes caused by the tsunami through satellite imagery and identified possible linkages of the impact on the livelihood of local communities.

The study revealed that the Islands of Andaman and Nicobar were the worst affected and about 4,000 hectare of mangroves were totally lost and about 8,000 badly damaged”, he added.

Coral reefs were damaged either by deposits of debris and mud on the reefs or were washed away. Most of the beaches in the Nicobar Islands had disappeared affecting the nesting sites of the endangered leatherback turtles, he said.

Mr Raja said in the mainland the damage was mostly confined to sediment accumulation on the backshore and geomorphological changes along the shore.

In the second phase, he said ”we propose to undertake detailed studies and implementation programmes based on the rapid assessment study.”

Mr Raja said the Central government was committed to play a major role in establishing the tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean region through the active institution mechanism developed by the India Ocean and Global Ocean Observing System.