Tiny islands in Kerala ‘sinking’ due to sea erosion

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Some tiny islands formed by backwaters of scenic Ashtamudi Lake and Kallada River in Kollam District in southern Kerala, among the major tourist attractions, are sinking due to rising sea level and erosion, according to local authorities.

The authorities of Munroe Thuruth Gram Panchayat, under which these islands fall, and political activists have sought assistance from global conservation organisations to deal with the “alarming” situation.

Photo: Deccan Chronicle
Photo: Deccan Chronicle

Panchayat officials said the shrinking tiny islands, ranging from one acre to over one hectare, were inhabited by humans. But now people were leaving these tiny islands as they find it very difficult to survive here as saline water has invaded the localities.

President of the Munroe Thuruthu Grama Panchayat, Binu Karunakaran, said they are facing a “huge crisis” as there are not much funds to adopt scientific measures to save “the sinking islands” which are part of the panchayat.

“We have decided to adopt a sustainable way to save the islands from saline waters encroaching the small land areas in the lake. We think that planting mangroves around the islands will help us to save these scenic areas,” he said.

“These small islands are shrinking fast,” K Madhu, a political activist, told PTI pointing towards tiny islands during a boat journey through the confluence of Ashtamudi Lake and Kallada River in which Munroe Island is located.

The Munroe Thuruth Grama Panchayat comprises eight medium size islands and several small islands. It is named after the British administrative head of erstwhile Travancore kingdom Colonel John Munro.

“We need advice and assistance from global conservation organisations like IUCN to protect these islands from impact of global warming,” said former Rajya Sabha M P K N Balagopal, who had taken up the issue with the Union government and environmental organisations like Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in New Delhi.

“Sea levels set to rise far more rapidly than expected. So we need aid from centre and global conservation organisations to save the sinking islands,” he said.

Balagopal suggested utilising a part of the the Green Climate Fund, sponsored by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for developing countries, to help the islands to deal with sea level rise.

As Rajya Sabha member, he had sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to save the Munroe island, Balagopal said, adding former Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had deputed an official team to study the situation.

He said “special care” from the Centre was required to protect the lives of 15,000 people living in Munroe island, which is being hit by increasing level of saline water.

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