Basics of Indian Coasts
The total coastline of India measures about 7,517 km, which is distributed among nine coastal states and four Union Territories; and entire coast of India falls within tropics. The nine coastal states are Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal. The Four coastal Union Territories are Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The coasts of India include West coast, East coast and Coast of Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Largest states by Coastline
Gujarat is strategically located with largest share in India’s coastline, followed by Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Over 22.6% of total coasts of India are of islands (Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep and Diu islands). The Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of India cover an area of about 2,305,143 km², enclosed within 200 nautical miles (that is: 370.4 km) from the land. Out of this, 1,641,514 km² is shared by India’s coasts of mainland while 663,629 km² is of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This implies that all the areas on the continental shelves (Indian Continental Shelf- 468,000 km2) are under national sovereignty.
From various points of view, Indian coasts are very much important. India has large coastal wetlands which cover an area of over 41,401 km². This is 27.13% of the Total area covered by wetlands in India. In contrast with the Inland wetlands, coastal wetlands are much less however. The inland wetlands of India cover 105649 Km², which accounts Inland wetlands of India share around 69.22% of Total wetland area. (a question was asked in Prelims 2012 on this)
Origin of the western and eastern coasts of India is generally attributed to the faulting and subsidence of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal towards the close of the Eocene Period. This implies that the alluvial deposits along these coasts are of very recent origin, ranging from Pliocene to recent times.
West Coast of India
The Western Coastal plain lies between Kerala and Gujarat and stretches from the Arabian Sea to the Western Ghats. The total length of the western coasts is 1400 kilometers and its width varies from 10 kilometers to 80 kilometers. The elevation of the land ranges from 150m to 300m above sea level. The most important characteristics of the Western Coastal Plain are sandy beaches, coastal sand- dunes, mud-flats, lagoons, alluvial tracts, estuaries, lateritic -platforms and residual hills.
On the west coast, we have coastal plains of Gujarat and the coasts of the Peninsular India between Western Ghats and Arabian Sea. We divide the west coast into these three parts Coasts and Coastal Plains of Gujarat, Konkan Coast and Malabar Coast
Coastal Plains of Gujarat
Physiographically, Gujarat is divided into three regions viz. Mainland Gujarat, Saurashtra Peninsula and Katch. Out of them, the Mainland Gujarat consists of eastern rocky highlands, the extensions of mountains of western India and the western Alluvial Plains including the coastal plains.
The Saurashtra Peninsula forms a rocky table land fringed by the coastal plains with the central part made up of the undulating plain broken by hills and dissected by various rivers flowing in all directions.
The eastern fringe is a low land which marks the site of the former sea connection between the Gulfs of Katch and Gulf of Cambay.
Then, the Katch region is made up of Ranns which is basically a salt encrusted wasteland just a few meters above sea level. It gets denudated in the monsoon. It is divided into Great Rann in the north and Little Rann in the east. Between Great Rann and Rocky mainland lies the Banni Plains.
The above discussion makes it clear that plains of Gujarat cover almost the entire state of Gujarat, except two districts viz. Banaskantha and Sabarkantha. These plains have become mainly due to the alluvial deposits of Sabarmati, Mahi, Luni and other rivers and also the depositional activity of winds.
Luni and Banas rivers discharge into Rann forming inland drainage during rainy season, both of them are inland rivers.
From South of Gujarat plain, Konkan coastal plain extends from Daman to Goa. Its last boundary down south is Gangavalli River.
The Konkan coast is generally narrow, not exceeding 65 km. It is widest near Mumbai. It is rocky and uneven, a few hills protrude up to the sea and that is why we find numerous light houses across the costs to warn the ships remain away from the rocky area. The coast is rich in oil resources such as Bombay High. The northern part is sandy while the southern part is rugged.
The Malabar Coast starts from south of Goa to Kanyakumari or Cape Comorin on India’s southern tip extends. This is known for numerouslagoonsaka. Kayals, which run parallel to the coast in southern part of Kerala. A chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Malabar Coast in Kerala are called Backwaters. The network of Kerala Backwaters includes five large lakes linked by canals, both manmade and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending virtually half the length of Kerala state. The backwaters were formed by the action of waves and shore currents creating low barrier islands across the mouths of the many rivers flowing down from the Western Ghats range.
Some important landmarks of this coast are the Vembanad lake, the longest lake of India and the National Water Way-3, that stretches Kottapuram to Kollam.
Importance of Kerala Coasts
Kerala coastal zone is famous for its beautiful beaches, backwaters and lagoons. The coastal belt, a narrow strip of lowland, is the most picturesque region of Kerala, interspersed with extensive backwaters, lagoons and canals and flanked by luxuriant coconut groves and green rice fields. The lagoons and backwaters are never far from the sea and at several places they have established a permanent connection with it. The backwaters, rivers and the canal system form a navigable waterway of about 1,920 km.
This offers an unique ecological niche with great potential for brackish water fish farming in the state.
The sea off Kerala is one of the most productive zones for marine fish in India. Kochi is the major port located along the coast. The entire coastline is of natural beauty with vast beaches. The tidal implications are felt deep into inland areas through the network of backwaters. These tides have high utility for fishing, navigation and boating.
Eastern Coast of India
The eastern coasts cut through the three statesviz. Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The Cauvery delta is most important sub region in Tamil Nadu, the Krishna Godavari Delta is most important landmark in Andhra Pradesh while the Mahanadi Delta is most important landmark in Odisha.
Eastern Coastal plain lies between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal and is more extensive and wide than its western counterpart. They represent an emergent coast while it‘s western counterpart is an example of submerging coast. The region receives both the Northeast and Southwest monsoon rains with its annual rainfall averaging between 1,000 mm and 3,000 mm. The width of the plains varies between 100 to 130 kilometers. The region is wider, gets more rainfall, more hot and humid, more discontinuous and more fertile & irrigated in comparison to the western plains. At places the plains are bordered with dunes. Mangrove forests also grow in this region. Lagoons are also found here.
This plain is broadly divided into
• Coromandal Coast: Ranges from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu to False Divi Point in Andhra Pradesh, which is just at the apex of the Krishna River delta.
• The region between the Krishna and Mahanadi for which an old tem Northern Circars is sometimes used. Some classify it as Andhra Pradesh coastal plains.
• Mahanadi Delta. Another broader term used is Utkal Coast, which also includes the Chilika Lake.
Comparison of the East Coast and West Coast
|Stretching from Rann of Katch to Kanyakumari as a narrow strip between Arabian Sea and Western Ghats
|Stretching from Kanyakumari to Sunderbans as a relatively broader (than western coast) between Eastern Ghats and Bay of Bengal.|
|Divided into costal plains of Gujarat, Konkan Coast and Malabar Coast||Divided into Coromandal Coast and North Sircar coastal plains|
|Highly influenced by south west monsoon||Influenced by North East Monsoon.|
|Also receives rains from South West Monsoon.|
|Lagoons and Estuaries are common||Deltas are common|
|Submerging Coast Less attacked by Cyclones||Emergent Coast More attacked by Cyclones|
Important Observations about the Coastal Landmarks of India
Gulf of Kutch
Gulf of Kutch is the largest coastal habitat in the West coast of India. It is a shallow water body with depth extending from 60 m at the mouth to less than 20 m at the head of the Gulf. Average depth is 30 meters. Around the Lushington Island, the depth is just 5 meters.
• Bordered by Katch in the north and Saurashtra in the south.
• Home to a Marine National Park and Marine Sanctuary at the southern shore, which includes 42 islands and a complex of fringing reefs backed by mudflats and sand flats, coastal salt marsh and mangrove forests, sand and rocky beaches which support a great diversity of fauna and flora.
• Many islands are fringed with corals and mangroveswhich provide disturbance free habitats for many species of nesting birds.
• Apart from the islands, there are a large number of wavecuts (eroded shallow banks) such as Pirothan, Deda, Donna, Sankhodhar Beyt, Paga, Adatra and Boria, many of them have corals within.
• Gulf of Katch is the home for more than 800 species of organisms; 32 hard corals (Scleractinia) and 12 soft corals (Alcyonaria), 150-200 species of fishes, more than 100 species of algae, great diversity of sponges and worms, brittlestars, marine turtles and other reptiles, over 200 species of migratory and resident bird species.
• Gulf of Katch is home to the rare and endangered marine mammal, the dugong (Sea Cow).
• Gulf of Kutch produces 95% of the salt requirements of the country. Salt pans are located close to inter-tidal area and deep into the land.
• Gulf of Katch area is home for intermediate and major ports like Kandla, Adani, Okha and Salaya.
• Kandla is one of the major ports of India. The Asia’s largest oil refinery is located at Jamnagar in the Gulf of Kutch.
Gulf of Cambay
Gulf of Cambay or Gulf of Khambat is a 80 miles long gulf that divides the Kathiawar peninsula to the west from the eastern part of Gujarat state on the east. Two major rivers of Gujarat viz. Narmada and Tapti empty here.
• The Gulf of Cambay is known for its extreme tides.
• The Gulf of Cambay is home to Alang shipyard, which is known for marine salvage industry, half of all ships salvaged around the world are recycled here. The state government wants to make it largest International Maritime Organization-compliant ship recycling yard in the world and for that Gujarat has joined hands with Japan. The industry is benefited a lot by the tides here. Large ships are beached during the twice-monthly highest tides, and are dismantled when the tide recedes.
• The Gulf is encircled by a string of historical port towns such as Bharuch, Surat, Khambhat, Bhavnagar, and Daman.
• The Gulf is shallow and abounds in shoals and sandbanks. Mangroves are also found here, mainly in the Piram island.
Gulf of Mannar
The Gulf of Mannar is a shallow bay, part of the Laccadive Sea in the Indian Ocean. A chain of low islands and reefs known as Adam’s Bridge, also called Ramsethu, which includes Mannar Island, separates the Gulf of Mannar from Palk Strait, which lies to the north between India and Sri Lanka.
• The Thamirabarani River of south India and the Aruvi Aru of Sri Lanka drain into the Gulf of Mannar.
• The gulf of Mannar is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna and is known as one of the richest coastal regions in India. The corals, sharks, dugongs, dolphins and sea cucumber.
• The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park was declared in 1986. The national park and its 10km buffer zone were declared Biosphere Reserve in 1989. The Gulf of Mannar is famous for its pearl banks of Pinctada radiata and Pinctada fucata for at least two thousand years.
Palk Strait connects the Bay of Bengal in the northeast with the Palk Bay anc connects the Palk bay to Gulf of Mannar in the southwest. It is 53-80 kilometers wide, studded with a chain of low islands and reef shoals that are collectively called Adam’s Bridge. This chain extends between Dhanushkodi on Pamban (Rameswaram) Island in Tamil Nadu and Mannar Island in Sri Lanka.
The shallow waters and reefs of the strait make it difficult for large ships to pass through, although fishing boats and small craft carrying coastal trade have navigated the strait for centuries. Large ships must travel around Sri Lanka. Construction of a shipping canal through the strait was first proposed to the British government of India in 1860, and a number of commissions have studied the proposal up to the present day. It is curently in news because of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project.
Islands of India
The islands of India constitute Andaman and Nicobar group of islands (Bay of Bengal), Lakshadweep Islands (Arabian Sea), riverine and off shore islands. The Lakshadweep and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands are India’s two major island formations. Other significant islands in India include Diu Daman, a former Portuguese enclave; Majuli, a river island of the Brahmaputra; Elephanta in Bombay Harbour; and Sriharikota, a barrier island in Andhra Pradesh. Salsette Island is India’s most populous island on which the city of Mumbai (Bombay) is located. 42 islands in the Gulf of Kutch constitute the Marine National Park. The number of islands of India in Bay of Bengal is approximately 5 times the islands in the Arabian Sea.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands which are largely tectonic and volcanic in origin, while the islands of the Arabian Sea are mainly coral formations.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands (ANI)
The Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago consists of over 345 islands, islets and rocky outcrops, with land area extending up to 8,249 km 2 and a coastline stretch of 1,962 km; the Andaman Islands constitute 6408 km2 and the Nicobars 1841 km2.
The Andaman Islands are the extension of the submerged Arakan Yoma Tertiary Mountain range of Myanmarand the Nicobars are the continuation of the Mentawai Islands to the south and southeast of Sumatra. The main rocks of these islands are sandstone, limestone and shale. These two island groups situated in the Bay of Bengal span 6°45′ N to 13°41′ N (740 km) and 92°12′ E to 93°57′ E (190 km).
The nearest land mass to Great Nicobar Island is Sumatra, 145 km southeast; and the Myanmar coast is roughly 280 km north of Landfall Island, the northern- most island in the Great Andaman group. The topography of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is hilly and undulating, the elevation in the Andamans is from 0 to 732 m, Saddle Peak being the highest in North Andaman Island. In the Nicobars the elevation rises from 0 to 568 m, Mt Thuillier being the highest peak on Great Nicobar Island.
The Andaman Islands support one of the world’s most extensive mangrove ecosystems. Due to their long isolation, these islands have evolved significant diversity of flora and fauna with a high level of endemism.
The land area of 6408 km² in the Andamans constitutes 90% as reservesand protected areas of which 36% is tribal reserves. The entire Nicobar group is a tribal reserveand has four wildlife sanctuaries, two national parks and one biosphere reserve.
Important Observations about the Ecological Profile of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
• The ANI consists of very fragile island ecosystems and some of the most pristine in the world, which supports very unique flora and fauna. The landscape for large islands emerges from sea grass beds, coral reef or rocky outcrops, to beaches, littoral forest, Andaman slope forests, hilltops, into valleys and streams. Some of the dominant tree species in these luxuriant forests reach heights of 40- 60 m.
• In some areas in the Andamans along the west and the east coast, the landscape starts from reefs or rocky outcrops to steep rock faces with wind blown vegetation.
• The topography of all large islands in the Andamans, Little Andaman, Little Nicobar and Great Nicobar Islands, is mostly interlaced with perennial and seasonal freshwater streams and in some areas a matrix of mangrove creeks extending into marshes.
• Little Andaman Island has ecosystems that do not occur anywhere else in the Andamans or the Nicobars, mainly extensive fresh and saline water marshes and peat
• 9% Dense Forests, 1.7% Open Forests, 12% Mangroves. Mangroves cover an area of 929 km² and in the Nicobar the extent is 37 km² (Balakrishnan, 1989; Andrews & Sankaran, 2002).
• ANI are fringed by one of the most spectacular coral reefs in the world.
• The only primate, the Nicobar crab eating macaque(Macaca fascicularis umbrasa) occurs in the southern group of the Nicobar Islands. The islands are a birdwatcher’s paradise with as many as 250 species recorded.
• The complex geological history of these islands and the submergence of land bridges leading to isolation have left the islands with high levels of endemism. The widespread distribution of certain species indicates that there was an early evolution and dispersal throughout the archipelago. Endemism in reptiles and amphibians appears relative to species richness, islands with larger diversity have greater number of endemics.
• Protected areas in the islands are tribal reserves, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, reserve, protected and preserved forest; and a biosphere reserve.
• An area of 513.70km² along the west coast of South Andaman Islandis notified as a tribal reserve for the Jarawa people. This reserve extends north along the same coast into Middle Andaman Island, extending the reserve for another 338. 69 km². A 5 km distance into the sea from the high tide line right along the entire stretch of the Jarawa Reserve is also notified as part of the reserve.
• Strait Island, 6.01 km² in area, on the east coast of Middle Andaman Island supports a population of 45-50 of the last remaining Great Andamanese people.
• To the south west of South Andaman Island is North Sentinel Island with an area of 59. 67 km² and is inhabited by the Sentinalese people.
• The southern most island Little Andaman Island with a geographical area of 731. 57 km² and of this, 706. 49 km² with a distance of 3 km from the high tide line and into the sea along the coast has been notified as a tribal reserve for the Onge people.
• The entire group of 24 Nicobar Islands is notified as tribal areas; only 1,499.65 ha along the east coast from Campbell bay and up to 35 km is outside the Tribal Area and is inhabited by ex-servicemen, traders, government departments and the residents. Great Nicobar has a total area of 1044. 54 km² and of which 853. 19 km² is the tribal reserve, for both, the 380 Shompen people and the Nicobarese people.
• There are four national parks in the Andamans, Mahatma Gandhi Marine, Mount Harriet, Rani Jhansi Marine and Saddle Peak National Parks. The Nicobars have two areas notified as national parks and an area in Great Nicobar designated as the Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve. Within the area of 960.40 km² in Great Nicobar Island, 110 km² is the Galathea National Park, situated on the south east of the island. On the east coast an area of 476. 73 km² is notified as the Campbell Bay National Park. An area of 885 km² includes the Nicobar Biosphere Reserve and all these parks are within the tribal area.
• The Barren Island in the Andamans has an active volcano. In the Bay of Bengal, there are two volcanic islands (Barren and Narcondam) situated within 80 km east of the Andaman Islands.
• Rice is the main crop in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Coconut and Arecanut are the main cash crops of Nicobar.
Some other notes on Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Andaman & Nicobar were known as ‘Kalapani’ because of their having been a penal settlement under the British Rule. First establishment of East India Company was in 1789 which was abandoned in 1796. Following the first war of Indian Independence in 1857, the British India Government founded the penal settlement in these islands in 1858, primarily known as Kalapani, for the deportation of freedom fighters from the mainland India, which continued till the Second World War During the Second World War, the Japanese forces occupied the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 1942. Further following the surrender of the Japanese forces in the Second World War, the British India Government reoccupied these islands in 1945 and continued their administration till the Independence of the country in 1947.
10 Degree Channel
It is a channel that separates the Andaman Islands from the Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. The channel is approximately 150 km wide, 400 fathoms deep running essentially along an east-west orientation. It is so named because it lies on the 10-degree line of latitude, north of the equator.
The northern most point is Landfall Island which is 901kms away from the mouth of Hoogly River and about 190kms from Burma.
The southern-most island is Great Nicobar, the southern-most tip of which Pygmalian Point now Indira Point is about 150kms away from Sumatra (Indonesia).
Saddle Peak in North Andaman at a height of 732 meters above sea level is the highest point in these islands.
The original inhabitants of Andaman & Nicobar Islands lived in the forests on hunting and fishing. There are four Negrito tribes; viz., the Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa and Sentinalese in the Andaman group of islands and and the Nicobarese and Shompens in the Nicobar group. Around 50 percent of the population is made up of settlers from the mainland India, some people call Andamans as a Little India or a mini-India. The settlers or ancestors of these settlers came either prior to 1947 or after 1947.
The centre of activity of the Forest Department is Chatham Island. It has perhaps the biggest Saw Mill of its kind in Asia. Here logs are extracted with the help of elephants.
It is the highest hill around South Andaman and is about 365m . Formerly it was the headquarters of the Chief Commissioner.
Seat of British Administration. The place came into decay with the shifting of the Chief Commissioner’s Office in 1942 as areas close to the shore had developed serious cracks and it was felt that the building was not safe. Ross Island was occupied by Japanese in March 1942. In October 1945 the Islands were re-occupied by the British. Today the Island is deserted.
A training ground for elephants.
Ritchie’s Archipelago is a cluster of smaller islands which lie some 25–30 km (16–19 mi) east of Great Andaman. The archipelago comprises some 4 larger islands, 7 smaller islands and several islets. The 4 large islands are Havelock Island, Henry Lawrence Island, John Lawrence Island and Sir William Peel Island.
Havelock Island Known for Coral Reefs
Neil Island Known for timbering operations.
Also known as Bird Island
The Viper Island There was a jail prior to commissioning of Cellular jail.
Most of the Nicobarese people are Christians.
Regarded by the freedom fighters all over the country as a place of pilgrimage and meant for “dangerous prisoners”. The construction of the Cellular Jail was taken up in 1898 and completed by about 1906. Whole jail consists of cells and each cell was meant for one inmate only. Cellular Jail originally had seven, three storied wings with a total of 698 cells, radiating from a central tower which had an additional storey to facilitate watch and ward.
“Tyranny of our Freedom Fighters”
Convicts who were sentenced to transportation for life were sent to these islands and interned in the Cellular Jail. Many political prisoners and revolutionaries were incarcerated here during the freedom struggle. Against the tyranny of the Jail management political prisoners were not allowed to communicate with their friends and relatives on the mainland except once in a year. Even the letters coming from mainland and newspapers subscribed by the prisoners were censored before being given to them. While fighting against this tyranny some political leaders had to lay down their lives. Many prisoners had gone insane in the Jail and ended their live by committing suicide rather than subjecting themselves to the indignities heaped on them.
Damage to Building: In 1941 earthquake caused considerable damage to the Jail building. During the Japanese occupation from March 1942 to October 1954 further damage was caused to the building. All this finally resulted in the demolition of four out of the seven wings of the Jail. At present there are only three wings and these stand as silent monument to the great patriot’s and martyrs who were interned in this Jail, who had to sacrifice their lives at the altar of their country’s freedom.
Lakshadweep is an archipelago consisting of 12 attols, 3 reefs and 6 newly formed/ submerged sand banks. It is comprised of – 11 inhabited islands, 16 uninhabited islands; six newly formed/ submerged sand banks and 3 reefs. The Inhabited islands are Kavaratti, Agatti, Bangaram, Amini, Kadmat, Kiltan, Chetlat, Bitra, Andrott, Kalpeni and Minicoy.
• Bitra is the smallest of all having only a population of 267 (Census 2001). Though, the land area of this Coral paradise is only 32 Sq.kms. the inclusion of about 4200 Sq.Kms. of its lagoon area, 20,000 Sq.km. of its territorial waters and almost 4, 00,000 Sq.kms of Exclusive Economic Zone makes it one of the largest territories of the country. Kavaratti is its capital (Headquarters). The total population of these islands is 60650 (as per 2001 census). Malayalam is traditional vernacular spoken in all the islands, except Minicoy; where people speak Mahl, which is written in Divehi script and is the language of Maldives.
• The entire indigenous population because of their economic and social backwardness and geographical isolation is classified as Scheduled Tribes. The tribes have, however not been named. The islanders are Muslims by religion. These islands lie about 220 to 440 kilometers away from the coastal city of Kochi in Kerala between 8o and 12° 13” North Latitude and 71° and 74° East Longitude.
Important Observations about Lakshadweep
• Each island of Lakshadweep is fringed by coral sands. A common feature of these islands is that a shallow lagoon exists invariably in their western side separating the outer reef rim from low-lying coral islands composed essentially of calcareous sand and soil.
• Elevation of the Lakshadweep islands range from 0.5-7.0m above mean sea level. This implies that the danger from storm tides is tremendous over here.
• The origin of Lakshdweep Islands is attributed to theory of Sir Charles Darwin, according to whom the origin of these Islands can be traced to gradual submergence of some of the volcanic ridge into the Indian Ocean followed by accumulation of coralline deposits on the peaks and craters of these mountains. These deposits grew into coral islands resting on submerged mountaintops over a period of time.
• The islands are mostly coralline and their alignment appears to be in continuation of the Aravalli Strike of Rajasthan.
• Lakshadweep Islands are rich in marine wealth and an abode of plethora of coastal and marine bio-diversity with pristine Coral Reef Ecosystem which support variety of ornamental and food fishes belonging to various species besides the sedentary and slow moving creature such as Sea Cucumbers, shelled animals (Molluscs) and Hermit Crabs, Lobsters and Shrimps.
• The common farm species which are tend by the people are Cows, Goats, Ducks and Hens. Cats are common, but dogs are almost wholly absent. There are no poisonous snakes on the islands, and the islands are infested with rats and mosquitoes. The rats bring about a great deal of damage to coconut trees.
• The flora of Lakshadweep mainly consists of palm trees with coconut as the only commercial crop.
• Coastal bleaching and Coral erosion is one of the serious problems being faced by the Lakshadweep group of islands. During 1998 the strongest El Nino was recorded in Lakshadweep islands leading to rise in temperature in a range of 3-5° C above normal which resulted into severe coral bleaching, with mortality rates as high as 90% in some parts of these Islands. Rising sea levels may also lead to potentially acute erosion
Diu is an off – shore island on the western coast, off the Gulf of Cambay, bordering Junagarh district. It is separated from the Gujarat Coast by a tidal creek. The coast has limestone cliffs, rocky coves and sandy beaches, the best of which are at Nagoa. A massive fort built by the Portuguese dominates the skyline. Nagoa beach is the most famous in Diu. Another beautiful beach is Ghoghla beach. The Diu fort was constructed between 1535 and 1541 AD after the defence alliance concluded between the Sultan of Gujarat and the Portuguese. The fort commands a magnificent view of sea.
Mājuli is a large river island in the Brahmaputra river, in Assam with an area of 1,250 Kms² once upon a time but but having lost significantly to erosion it has left with only a third of it. It was formed due to course changes by the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries, mainly the Lohit. It was originally a piece of land between Brahamputra River (north) and Burhidihing river (south). Due to earthquakes back in mediveal times, the change of Brahamputra river course caused the formation of the Majuli Island. Mājuli is also the abode of the Assamese neo-Vaisnavite culture. A wetland, Mājuli is rich biodiversity spot and is home to many rare and endangered avifauna species including migratory birds that arrive in the winter season. Among the birds seen here are: the Greater Adjutant Stork, Pelican, Siberian Crane and the Whistling Teal. After dark wild geese and ducks fly in flocks to distant destinations. The island is almost pollution free owing to the lack of polluting industries and factories and also the chronic rainfall.
Islands Off Mumbai
• Butcher Island: Butcher Island (Jawahar Dweep) is an island off the coast of Mumbai. It has an oil terminal used by the port authorities to offload it from oil tankers. The crude oil is stored in oil containers on the island. From there they are piped to Wadala, in Mumbai where they are refined. This keeps the city relatively safe from a mishap. It is a restricted area and most of the island is covered with dense vegetation. A hillock rises from the centre of the island. It is located 8.25 kilometres (5.13 mi) from the Gateway of India.
• Elephanta Island: Elephanta Island or Gharapuri Island is in Mumbai Harbour. It is home to the Elephanta Caves that have been carved out of rock.
• Oyster Rock: Oyster Rock is an island in the Mumbai harbour, Mumbai, India. It is fortified, and owned by the Indian Navy.
Pamban Island or Rameswaram Island is in Tamil Nadu. The chain formed by Pamban Island, the shoals of Adam’s Bridge, and Mannar Island of Sri Lanka separate Palk Bay and the Palk Strait in the northeast from the Gulf of Mannar in the southwest. Pamban Island extends for around 30 kilometres in width from the township of Pamban in the west to the remains of Dhanushkodi towards the south-east.
Sriharikota is a barrier island off the coast of Andhra Pradesh. It houses India’s only satellite launch centre in the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (also known as SHAR) and is used by the Indian Space Research Organisation to launch satellites using multi-stage rockets such as the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle. Sriharikota separates the Pulicat Lake from the Bay of Bengal, and is home to the town of Pulicat.