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Studies to ascertain tsunami impact on Kerala backwaters

By Aarti Dhar

NEW DELHI, JAN. 7. The picturesque backwaters along the Kerala coast have been affected after the December 26 tsunami. Sea water has entered the backwaters and studies are now on to ascertain its impact on the flora and fauna of the region, according to M. Baba, director of the Kerala-based Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS).

The CESS is now conducting extensive studies to assess the damage to the coastal system, he said. The centre is already preparing an Integrated Shoreline Plan for the entire central Kerala coast under a project supported by the Department of Ocean Development.

"Since there are no mangroves along this coast, the first line of protection are the sea-walls. But these have huge gaps. And, it were these gaps that helped sea water enter the inhabited areas in Kollam, Alleppey and Alapuzha,'' Mr. Baba told The Hindu here today. Most of the 179 deaths reported in Kerala were from these areas.

A stretch of 265 km of the 570 km-long coastline in the State has been hit. Though the Kerala coast lies in the shadow zone, the tsunami lashed the region because of the diffraction of waves at Kanyakumari.

"As the waves travelled northwards, they lost energy and hence there was no damage reported from the northern part," Mr. Baba said.

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