SAVE CORAL REEF ECOSYSTEM IN THE GULF OF KACHCHH, INDIA
Gujarat lies on the western side of India and it has longest coastline, which is of about 1650km. Its continental shelf occupies about 165,000sq.km, which is 35% of the Indian continental shelf of 468,000 sq. km
The Exclusive Economic zone is about 200,000sqkm.
The coastline has two indentations, the Gulf of Khambhat and Kachchh and these together, cover around 60% of the coastline of the state.
The Gulf has excellent water quality quite close to the characteristics of a pristine water body. The Gulf has an intricate network of 42 islands with their coral reefs, mangroves, creeks, mudflats and sandy beaches are endowed with a fantastic array of marine life. Out of 42 island 33 islands have coral reefs and 20 islands are fringed with mangroves.
The biodiversity is also very wide which include 103 species of algae, 10 species of mangroves, about 279 species of coastal flora, about 74 species of sponges, 52 species of soft and hard corals, 4 species of sea anemones, 144 species of fishes, 27 species of prawns, 21 species of crabs, 200species of mollusks, 3 species of turtles, 3 species of snakes and 5 species of mammals.
The various ecosystems in the Gulf of Kachchh as well as the surrounding areas acts as a nursery and breeding ground for many of the invertebrates, algae, plankton, etc.
The salt pans surrounding the gulf of Kachchh even provides various birds their nesting area as it is away from public interference. The sandy beaches and scrub vegetation on the coast also provides nesting sites for many coastal birds.
The coastal area, unto 20 km. from the shoreline is 30,022.25sq.km, which is 15.3% of the state. Most of the land area is utilized for cultivation purpose. 25% of area is not available for cultivation. This is where the habitation and natural wealth exists.
The population is about 1718990 as it is desert area it is less inhabitant and hence the density is of about 54persons/sqkm. The coastal area of belt of Jamnagar district has 64% of the total cultivable land in20km zone with the Kachchh district having about 35%. Cotton is the dominant crop in the Kachchh district while agriculture is mainly done of oil seeds.
Rainfall is not a reliable source of water for agriculture and hence the ground water is been continuously extracted which leads to the decrease in the water table level and increase in the salinity level.
Animal husbandry is an important economic activity in the arid and semi-arid areas supporting farm income. All other facilities such as education, health, drinking water, communication, transportation and power are modest in the coastal belt.
Threats to the biodiversity:
The main threats to the ecosystem of the Gulf of Kachchh are from oil, petrochemicals and allied industries. The Gulf area is being aggressively developed as an oil-importing base because of its proximity to the oil exporting countries of the Middle East.
In the southern part of the Gulf of Kachchh is under excessive pressure from industrialization around the coastal area.
The area is gaining increasing importance for the Petrochemical industries and this has impact over the ecosystem of the Gulf of Kachchh, there are mainly two reasons that play important role on the impact over the ecosystem.
There is heavy traffic of ships carrying large quantity of crude oil in the Gulf of Kachchh that disturbs the life of the animals and its ecosystem, secondly, the accidents due to which oil spill occurred also damage the life of many bio-resources existing in the Gulf of Kachchh.
If the oil spills in the Gulf of Kachchh it will spread on the surface very fast due to the prevailing strong tidal currents over a large area and will become thinner and thinner as it spreads. Thus, even a spill of 15-20 tones will appear to be a huge spill in satellite imagery.
Gujarat is second largest industrialized state in India, the industries consist of cement, chemicals, dyes and dye-intermediates, and pharmaceuticals, textiles, pulp and paper industries and most of these industries are present on the coast. The industries existing and proposed along the coast, with their associated urbanization will be releasing their wastewater, in treated or untreated form, to the coastal Gulf.
Though there are various threats to the bio- resources because of overuse or over exploitation of the marine bio-resources, still if various plans for conservation are implemented then there should be some plans or some recommendations, which gives alternate source of livelihood for the people living in the coastal area.
Save gulf of Kachchh coral and mangrove ecosystem