Rs 2000 cr for coastal erosion prevention in TN budget Environmentalists upbeat

Chennai, March 21 : Allocation of Rs 2000 crore for coastal erosion prevention in the Tamil Nadu budget for the financial year 2023-24 has kindled fresh hopes among the conservationists and environmentalists of the state. Mukundarajan. M. R., Environmentalist, and Director of Society for Environmental Studies and Action, based in Madurai, told IANS, "This is a welcome move of state finance minister P. Thiagarajan (PTR). The Rs 2000 crore in budget for prevention of coastal erosion means cultivation of Mangrove in large numbers will be done and this will help the state march ahead in the conservation of environment and preventing erosion." The state budget has allocated funds for Tamil Nadu Coastal Restoration Mission to protect marine biodiversity, livelihood of coastal population and prevent coastal erosion. The Muthupet Mangrove forest is an important benchmark in the conservation and coastal erosion prevention of the state, and has been crucial against climate change and sea erosion. Cyclone Gaja that lashed Tamil Nadu on November 10, 2018 destroyed the mangrove forests in Muthupet, and according to Mukundarajan, the loss was pegged at around 6800 hectares of mangroves. The replanting of the Mangrove forest has not been done in a big way even five years after the cyclone destroyed it. The forest department of Tamil Nadu has however planted mangroves in a few hectares of land, and the present allocation of Rs 2000 crore which would be distributed in a period of five years with World Bank's support can be a game changer. The presence of lush Mangrove forests would act as a major shield against all types of natural calamities and the amount sanctioned in the budget has enlivened the environmentalists precisely for this reason. Shewtha Narasimhan, social and environmental activist based out of Thiruvarur told IANS, "We welcome the budget allocation of Rs 2000 crore for the restoration of mangroves and prevention of coastal erosion and if the government accelerates replanting of mangroves on a war-footing, then in the next five years there can be a sea change in the field of environmental conservation in Tamil Nadu." According to studies by the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), around 422.94 km of Tamil Nadu's coastline is eroding. Thiruvarur district is classified as high erosion district of Tamil Nadu. The state government along with the state forest department is planning to add around 68 sqkm of mangroves in the next five years, sources in environment and forest department told IANS. /IANS


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