Cities are considered the engines of growth with bursting economic activities, thanks to the competitive / extractive growth models adopted in India. The nation’s wealth is concentrated in cities. The population density is steeply rising disproportionate to the available land space. Besides, the cities in India are already very heavily stressed due to huge waste generation (solid, liquid, bio-medical and e-waste), growth of slums, increasing environmental risks and ecological imbalances, traffic congestion, mobility constraints, inadequate protected drinking water supply and drainage, lack of adequate green cover and shrinking open space, neglect of water bodies, rivers, streams, marsh lands, beaches, sand dunes, estuaries and flood plains. Most importantly, cities suffer from lack of scientific flood management practices.
The key questions are,
• How vulnerable the Indian coastal cities are for increasing coastal flooding, coastal erosion and sea-level rise? What will be the extent of land submergence due to SLR?
• How sea-level rise may result in disruption in sea trade routes and trading among nations?
• There is going to be disproportionate impact of sea-level rise on the marginalized sections of the population in a coastal city: What will be the extent of suffering by the coastal (fisher folks) communities? How vulnerable the slum population in the cities? In other words, how the risks and vulnerabilities are distributed across different sections of the population?
• How are we going to handle this challenge? How prepared are we to protect the Indian coastal cities from sea-level rise?
• Or, is the submergence of at least portions of cities inevitable? In which case, what will be the extent of damages and losses?
• To what extent coastal ecosystem functions will be disrupted or wiped out due to Climate change?
• To what extent bio-shields such as mangroves can help to mitigate sea-level rise, coastal flooding, shoreline changes, and coastal erosion?