Bhubaneswar, Jul 29 (PTI)
Waves crashing against the shore is nothing new for the inhabitants of two of Orissa's seaside tourist resorts - Puri and Gopalpur. But what they have been witnessing for the last few months has come as a shock. "The sea has been behaving in an UNNATURAL manner with high waves lashing against the coast and damaging structures. It seems the sea is inching inside." While the sea waves have washed away nearly 500 metres of a newly-constructed road on the outskirts of Puri, several walls of hotels and a lighthouse at Gopalpur, down south in Ganjam district, have collapsed under the pounding of the sea. "I have been observing this phenomenon since August last year, but no action has been initiated about it." There have been reports about the Bay of Bengal eroding the coast in the Satbhaya area of Kendrapara district and swallowing up at least five of the seven coastal villages in a cluster over the last few years. However, this was something new in towns like Puri and Gopalpur where the administration is monitoring the situation with concern. A study conducted recently said that 23% of India's shoreline was getting eroded with four states - Maharashtra, Orissa, Karnataka and Kerala - being the worst affected. In Orissa, over 100 km out of the state's 480-km coastline was facing erosion while the problem was more acute in Kerala. It also said that the growth of long sand pits at the Chilika Lagoon on the coast indicated littoral movement and subsequent silt deposition. Within the last fortnight, the sea has devoured a large portion of the road in Puri linking Baliapanda with Sipasarubali - where a tourist resort is proposed to be developed - causing panic among the inhabitants. The road had been constructed recently, even as new buildings, apartment blocks and hotels were coming up in the areas as the resort town was expanding. Six new buildings are now facing direct threat from the sea. Grave concern was expressed about the situation in Penthakata area of the town where a population of about 20,000 fishermen are living virtually on the edge of the sea.
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