Wetland ecosystem and coastal habitat diversity in gujarat india

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					Journal of Coastal Development                                                                          ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                                                   Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000


                   DIVERSITY IN GUJARAT, INDIA

                                                     Oswin D. Stanley*)

         Gujarat Ecology Commission, GERI Campus, Race Course Road, Vadodara, Gujarat, India

                            Received: September 5, 2003 ; Accepted: January 10, 2004


Wetland ecosystems are the major contributors for the nations’ wildlife biodiversity, productivity and
economy. The paper elaborates the habitat diversity of wetlands in Gujarat, India, the floral and faunal
diversity of each ecosystem, the major industrial and development pressures posed by the mangroves
and coastal ecosystems. Thus indicates the significance and necessity for wetland habitat conservation.

Key Words: Biodiversity Hotspots, Wetlands, Mangroves, Corals, Pressures.
     Correspondence: Phone: 0265-2339115 ; Fax: 0265-2330036 ; E-mail:

INTRODUCTION                                                         maximum during the months of July and
                                                                     August. Relative humidity is low in all
Gujarat is located on the Tropic of Cancer                           parts of the state. Intensity of wind is more
(Lat 20001’ to 24007’N and Long 68004’ to                            during late summer and monsoon.
74004’E); falls in the sub-tropical climatic                                  The hydrological regime of the
zone and has a varied climate and climatic                           state is governed by the complex geo
regions. Gujarat has the longest coastline                           climatic condition. Most of the ground
of about 1663km in India. The vast                                   water resource is concentrated in the
continental shelf varies in width from 58 to                         unconsolidated formation, covering about
191 miles with 64,810 of area                                  40 of the area of the state. The surface
having depths of less than50m and another                            water is dominantly concentrated in the
99, with depth 50 to 200m.                                   southern and central parts of the state.
Therefore Gujarat’s fishing ground is                                         The Banas, Sabarmati, Mahi,
extensive.                                                           Narmada and Tapi are major rivers
        The various seasons of the year are                          draining into the gulf of Khambhat while
monsoon        (June-October),        winter                         the rivers Bhader, Ojat and Shetrunji are
(November-February) and summer (March                                those of Kathiawar peninsula draining into
to June). The temperature varies between                             the Arabian Sea. There are few seasonal
80 to 450C. It receives rainfall from the                            small rivers draining into the gulf of
southwest monsoon and with the                                       Kachchh (Table 1).

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                         ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                                                  Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000

Table 1. Status of the major Rivers in Gujarat
 Region                Name of the            Length                 Catchment       Average            Nature of
                       river                  flowing in             area in         annual             River
                                              Gujarat                Gujarat         runoff
                                              (Km)                   (         (MCM)
                                                                                     (Avg. of
 North Gujarat
              Sabarmati                                      323             18495         870.52       Ephemeral
              Banas                                          188              5405          42.86       Ephemeral
              Saraswati                                        -              2282          18.62       Ephemeral
              Rupen                                          156              2662         143.71       Ephemeral
              Rel                                              -               238           9.82       Ephemeral
 South and Central Gujarat
              Narmada                                        159             11399        6016.31       Perennial
              Tapi                                           214              3837        6627.67       Perennial
              Mahi                                           242             11694        4807.18       Perennial
              Dhadar                                         142              4201         511.90       Ephemeral
              Kim                                            107              1330         311.16       Ephemeral
              Purna                                          142              2431        1466.92       Ephemeral
              Ambica                                         136              2715        1307.86       Ephemeral
              Damanganga                                      33               495        2938.94       Ephemeral
 Saurashtra Peninsula
              Shetrunji                                      182              5571          34.72       Ephemeral
              Bhader                                         198              7075         353.33       Ephemeral
              Machhu                                         141              2515              -       Ephemeral
              Saraswati                                        -                 -          70.96       Ephemeral
 Kachchh Peninsula
              Khari                                              -            373                 -     Ephemeral
              Pur                                                -              -              0.27     Ephemeral
              Kanakavati                                         -            275              0.81     Ephemeral
              Gjansar                                            -              -              0.28     Ephemeral
 Source: ORG (1999), CWC (1997) and planning Atlas of Gujarat

SALIENT      BIODIVERSITY                                                •    Flamingo city between Khadir and
                                                                              pahchhm belts in Gujarat in Great
HOTSPOTS OF GUJARAT                                                           Rann of Kachchh – breeding
                                                                              ground of migratory flamingoes.
Gujarat is bestowed with one of the most                                 •    Northern arid regions of Kachchh
diverse kinds of wetlands in the country                                      – habitat for the Spiny tailed
including mangroves, coral reefs, beaches,                                    lizard, Uromastix hardwickii.
mudflats, tidal flats, flood plain systems                               •    Wild Ass Sanctuary of Little Rann
and fresh water lakes and reservoirs.                                         of Kachchh – home for the last
    The unique bio diversity hotspots of                                      surviving population of Indian
Gujarat are as follows:                                                       Wild Ass.

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                         ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                                                  Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000

     •     Gaga Great Indian Bustard                                 only breeding sites for the greater and
           Sanctuary – Grassland supporting                          lesser flamingos in Asia are confined to the
           the majestic bird, the Great Indian                       Rann of Kachchh. The state also serves as
           Bustard listed in the Red Data                            the home for Indian Wild Ass, which is
           Book.                                                     unique and confined to the narrow zones of
     •     Vansda National Park, Valsad                              Kachchh. The only population of Dugong
           District                                                  on the West Coast of India is present in the
     •     Vajpur Forests of Surat District                          Gulf of Kachchh region.
     •     Vijayanagar         Forests       of                               Taking catch per hour as the
           Sabarkantha District                                      criterion, the dominant fisheries in coastal
     •     Velvadar National Park                                    Gujarat include jew fish (sciaenid) and
     •     Girnar Forests of Junagadh District                       silver grunt in kachchh, Porbandar and
     •     Narayan      Sarovar       Chinkara                       Dwarka, golden wam (eel) in Kambhat and
                                                                     Veeraval, cat fish in Kachchh and
                                                                     Porbandar, elasmobranches in Kachchh
     •     Ratnamahal Sloth Bear Sanctuary
                                                                     and other sciaenids in Dwarka, Kachchh,
     •     Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary
                                                                     Porbandar and Khambhat.
     •     Shoolpaneshwar              Wildlife
           Sanctuary, Bharuch District
     •     Purna Wildlife Sanctuary, Dangs
           District                                                  WETLAND ECOSYSTEM                          AND
     •     Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and
           National Park, Jungadh District                           HABITAT  DIVERSITY                             IN
     •     Marine National Park in Gulf of                           KACHCHH
                                                                     Due to geographical situation and
        The population of Gujarat is                                 prevailing physio-climatic conditions,
48,387,270 according to 2001 census.                                 following major natural eco-systems and
About 29 tribes consisting of about 15% of                           habitats can be delineated:
the population have a large depository of
indigenous knowledge on 1200 plants                                  A. Wetlands of Kachchh
species including 750 medicinal plants.
Gujarat, in its four-bio geographic zones                            There are many natural seasonal wetlands
recorded 4320 species of plants and 27028                            in Kachchh. In total about 258 wetlands
species of animals. Some endangered                                  were    delineated    through     satellite
mammals of Gujarat are Caracal, Desert                               imageries.   These     wetlands     cover
Cat, Ratel, Long eared Hedgehog,                                                             2
                                                                     approximately 21772km area, which is
Common Dolphin and Antelope; birds -                                 more than 80% of the entire state (SAC,
Lesser Florican, Great Indian Bustard,                               1998). Majority of these wetlands, are
Indian Skimmer, Sarus Crane and                                      however, found in the saline flatlands of
Dalmatian Pelican; Reptiles - Green Turtle,                          Ranns and Banni. These wetlands support
Banded Geeko, Painted Frog and Spiny                                 large number of migratory waterfowls in
Tailed Lizard. The indigenous breeds of                              winter.
cattle and Buffuloes in Gujarat are Gir,
Kankrej and Dangi and Surati, Mehsani,                               1. Ranns of Kachchh
Jafrabadi and Murah respectively.
        The wetlands of the state are major                          Rann is the largest saline and marshy tracts
wintering areas for cranes, pelicans,                                in the world. The Great Rann of Kachchh
flamingoes, ducks and shore birds. The                               (GRK) and the Little Rann of Kachchh

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                          ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                                                   Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000

(LRK) with an area of about 16780 km2                                antigone antigone) is one of the three
and 5180 km2, respectively, constitute the                           cranes (others are Common and
entire Rann of Kachchh. The Ranns in                                 Demoiselle cranes) visiting Kachchh.
general characterized by flat topography,                                      Small fish Cyrinodon dispar is
annual water inundation pattern, high                                common in the Rann. Kachchh recorded
salinity, barrenness and many ‘bets’ or                              very sporadic nesting of two endangered
Islands. The islands are slightly raised                             species of turtle viz. Olive Ridley and
isolated patches of land with less salinity                          Green Turtle.
and support some xerophytic vegetation.                                        The mixture of saline flat land and
                                                                     raised bets provide ideal habitat for many
1a. Great Rann of Kachchh (GRK)                                      other wild animal species including desert
                                                                     fox, desert cat, Indian porcupine, saw
Salt-impregnated GRK is one of the most                              scaled viper, krait, cobra and several
remarkable and unique ecosystems of                                  species of lizards especially the spiny
Kachchh and probably one of its own                                  tailed lizard.
kinds in the world due to its wilderness                                       The Sindal bet, right in the center
value. The average altitude is about 15                              of the GRK, is popularly known as
meter above mean sea level, and thus                                 ‘Flamingo City’, which is around 10 km
appears     like   a    tabletop     surface,                        from the Nir out-post on Kala Dungar. The
interspersed with small uplands (islands)                            area is famous for the largest congregation
locally called ‘bets’. The GRK owes its                              of Greater Flamingoes in the entire
origin to a marine transgression in                                  subcontinent. The area after the rainfall is
geological time scale and is tectonically an                         converted as a marshy island, where the
unstable area. Ecologically, it represents                           Greater Flamingoes visits for breeding. In
one of the largest seasonal saline wetland                           1945, Dr. Salim Ali estimated a population
areas having the water depth ranging from                            of half million birds from the site. Small
0.5 to 1.5 meter. However, after October-                            mounds of mud make the nests on the
November, water start drying up and the                              ground and on each mounds the birds lay
area turns into a saline desert, where the                           their eggs.
thick deposit of salt crystals is a common                                     Due    to    the    presence     of
scenario.                                                            geologically diverse rocks, many bets also
                                                                     support rich fossilized fauna, including the
Fauna                                                                skull of dinosaur and wood fossils (Singh
GRK is a refuge for the Indian Wild Ass                              2001). In diversity point of view, the area
(Equus hemionus khur), a threatened sub                              may not be considered as very rich, but it
species of Asiatic wild ass. Breading area                           supports one of the magnificent ecological
for Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo,                               phenomenon, which need to be preserved.
and Great White Pelican. The species such                            Ironically, there is very limited ecological
as Lesser Flamingo, Great White Pelican,                             data available about the area and the
Avocet and Caspian tern are recorded to                              magnificent phenomenon of breeding. The
breed only in Gujarat in the country. This                           area is currently a part of Kachchh Desert
area supports >50,000 water birds                                    Wildlife Sanctuary. Inland wetlands in
including Great Crested Grebe, Black                                 Kachchh also provide habitat for the
stork, Brahminy Duck, Common Pochard,                                endangered marsh crocodile (Crocodylus
Tuffted Pochard, White Eyed Pochard,                                 palustris).
Gulls, Terns, Stints and Plovers etc., The
mudflat areas near Lodrani are considered                            Flora
as one of the rich wetlands in Kachchh for                           The dominant mangrove vegetation along
migratory waterfowls. Sarus crane (Grus                              Jakhau, Koteshwar and Lakhpat is mainly

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                          ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                                                   Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000

of Avicennia marina var. acutissima,                                 (WAS). According to last census (Jan.
which forms almost a pure stand. Earlier                             1999), the total population of Wild Ass is
reports indicate that Avicennia officnalis,                          about 2839 (GEER, 1999).
Rhizophora       mucronata,      Bruguiera                                    LRK also provide ideal habitat for
gymnorhiza and Ceriops tagal were found                              large number of bird species such as
associated with Avicennia marina.                                    Dalmatian Pelican, White eyed Pochard,
Presently these species have become rare                             Indian Skimmer, Common crane, Great
or absent.                                                           crested grebe, Caspian tern, Houbara
        Huge formations of Sesuvium                                  bustard, Marbled Teal listed in the
portulacastrum occur on the marshy                                   vulnerable category, Lesser Flamingo as
fringes of mangroves associated with                                 near threatened as per the IUCN red data
Salicornia brachiata, Suaeda fruticosa,                              list and Spoon bill listed threatened as per
Cressa cretica and Aelurops lagopoides. In                           Wild life protection Act 1972. A total of
the low lying areas Juncus maritimus occur                           178 species of birds, including 81
in pure patches.                                                     terrestrial and 97 aquatic, were recorded
        In the areas with low salinity grass                         from the area. About 80,000 birds were
species such as Dichanthium annulatum,                               counted from different water bodies of
Sehima nervosum, Cenchurus siliaris, C.                              LRK (GEER, 1999).
setigerus and Panicum antidotale occur                                        Indain Flapshell Turtle, included in
along with Acacia nilotica and Capparis                              Schedule I of Indian Wildlife protection
sp.                                                                  act 1972 is found in the area. Marsh
                                                                     crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) listed as
1b. Little Rann of Kachchh (LRK)                                     vulnerable by BCPP is present in LRK.
                                                                              Surajbari is one of the main fish
The Little Rann of Kachchh (LRK) is                                  landing centers. The mixing of tidal waters
similar to the GRK as far as physiography,                           from the Gulf of Kachchh with the
climate, vegetation and overall edaphic                              freshwater flow during the monsoon makes
condition are concerned. However, they                               the area an important nursery ground for
are significantly different in silt deposition                       prawns. The major fishing centers are
pattern. While the Indus River has                                   therefore found on the western side of the
deposited silt in GRK, the LRK shows                                 LRK, where from the Surajbari Creek the
strong affinity with the silts brought from                          tidal water goes in. Prawn fishery (Kutch
other rivers of Gujarat. Due to different                            prawn-Metapenaeus          kutchensis,    an
inundation pattern (due to rain water                                endemic species to Kachchh and M.
draining from the rivers like Rupen and                              affinis) is predominant in this area mainly
Banas), the level of salt deposition on the                          during the period between late July to early
soil surface is also comparatively less in                           October. Other fish, which are found in
LRK.                                                                 and around the sanctuary area, are Hilsa
                                                                     illisha, Hilsa toil, mullet, bumia, pomfrets,
Fauna                                                                dara, ghol, palla etc. The total annual
The diverse group of organisms such as                               landing of the fishery from LRK varies
phytoplankton (107sp), water birds (97sp),                           from 2500 to 3000 MT (GEER, 1999).
fishes (22sp), amphibians (4sp), reptiles
(29sp), and invertebrates (93sp) were                                Flora
reported from LRK.                                                   Suaeda sp, Aelurops lagopoides, Cressa
        LRK is world famous for the last                             cretica, Cyperus sp and Chloris sp are
remaining population of endemic Wild Ass                             found commonly on the mudflats. Marsh
and to protect this species almost entire                            land vegetation comprise Scripus littoris,
LRK is covered under Wild Ass Sanctuary                              S.squarrosus found in ponds and ditches,

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                          ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                                                   Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000

Echinochloa colonum found in fresh water                             3. Wetlands of Kachchh Peninsula
puddles, Cyperus rotandus, C. bulbosus, C.
difformis found on low lying saline                                  In total, 2245 village tanks exist in the
wetlands. Marselia is abundant in pond                               region. Though these water bodies are
ecosystems. Various types of algae were                              smaller in size, they support considerable
also seen in the ponds and waterlogged                               number of water birds including migratory
areas. The species of Spirulina common in                            species.
these areas form the major food for the                                       Inland wetlands also provide
lesser flamingoes. The rich diatoms and                              habitat for the endangered marsh crocodile
plankton constitute the food for Greater                             (Crocodylis palustris). Twelve (12) water
flamingoes and ducks.                                                bodies and six (6) rivers in Kachchh
        The threatened species (BCPP-                                peninsula reported the presence of marsh
CAMP in 1997) such as Aelurops                                       crocodile. Khengar Sagar, Pragsar and
lagopoides (EN), Anthrocnemum indicum                                Edmund reservoirs were the most critical
(VU), Suaeda maritima (EN), Suaeda                                   water bodies from the conservation point
nudiflora (EN), Urochondra setulosa (EN)                             of view.
and Tamarix troupii (EN) are found in                                         Indian Flap shell Turtle was
LRK.                                                                 recorded from Kalagogha reservoir, Vijay
                                                                     sagar reservoir, Gajod reservoir, Mandvi
2. Wetlands in Banni-Chhari-Dhand                                    Lake and Tapar village tank.
                                                                     Water bodies contribute the major inland
Banni is the largest grassland in India,                             fishery and the common species are major
situated on the northern border of the Bhuj                          carps Catla, Rogu and Mrigal.
of Kachchh district. There are many
depressions in Banni, known as Dhand,                                B. Wetlands of Sautrashtra Peninsula
Jhil or talav. Shallow wetlands are
developed in low-lying parts of Banni after                          1. Khijadia lakes
monsoons. In total 34 such seasonal and
permanent wetlands exist in the Banni area                           Seasonal wetlands of fresh water combined
including Chhari –Dhand, Khirjog-Dhand,                              with coastal wetland ecosystem forms a
Abdha-Jheel and Luna-Jheel. Chhari –                                 unique area.
Dhand has the maximum water spread area
of and falls under the category of                           Fauna
seasonally flooded wetland type.                                     The total of 94 water bird species were
                                                                     identified including Dalmatian Pelican,
Fauna                                                                White eyed Pochard and Indian Skimmer
Banni supports >20,000 waterfowls from                               (Vulnerable as IUCN).
more than 20sp. Species reported includes
Dalmatian Pelican and Indian Skimmer                                 Flora
listed vulnerable by IUCN.                                           Seven (7) species of macrophytes were
                                                                     reported from the area. The grass species
Flora                                                                include Typha angustata, Scirpus sp,
Major vegetation is Prosopis juliflora,                              Cyperus sp, and Saccharum spontaneum.
Acacia sp, Calotropis sp, Aelurops                                   Submerged aquatic species are Hydrilla
lagopoides and sedge grass Cyperus sp.                               verticillata and Vallisneria spiralis.
                                                                              Prosopis juliflora, Acacia nilotica,
                                                                     Salvadora spp are the tree species and
                                                                     marsh vegetation like Aelurops sp and

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                        ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                                                 Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000

Suaeda sp are found in the adjoining saline                          Fauna
ecosystem.                                                           All the listed threatened species of
                                                                     waterfowl in Gujarat are found here.
2. Wetlands of central and eastern                                   Predatory finfish of Nal, like Channa sp,
   Saurashtra                                                        Wallugo attu, Saccobranchus sp etc are
                                                                     considered as resident species as they can
Sautrashtra, the larger of Gujarat’s two                             survive under most adverse conditions.
peninsulas extends from the port of
Dwarka to the Gulf of Khambhat. All the                              Flora
significant wetlands are storage reservoirs                          Cyperus sp, Typha angustifolia are the
created by damming small rivers or                                   emergent        vegetation.    Submerged
streams and saltpans.                                                vegetation such as Najas gracilens and N.
                                                                     marina occupies the open water zone.
Fauna                                                                Other aquatic plants found are Hydrilla sp
One hundred and thirty eight (138) species                           and Vallisneria sp. In puddles Marselia sp
of water birds including Dalmatian                                   is encountered.
Pelican, White eyed Pochard and Indian
Skimmer were reported. The region is a                               2. Wetlands of Sabarkantha                  and
major wintering area for pelicans,                                      Banaskantha districts
flamingoes, cranes and shorebirds.
        Hiren Lake within the Gir National                           Wetland of the area includes few tanks,
Park supports the largest known population                           reservoirs and small dams.
of marsh crocodiles an endangered species.
Flora                                                                Muval reservoir supports >5000 water
The reservoirs generally lack abundant                               birds.
aquatic vegetation. Only patches of marsh
vegetation or the reed beds remain.                                  Flora
Vegetation of the catchments area is                                 Prosopis juliflora, Mangifera indica,
Prosopis juliflora, Acacia nilotica and                              Tectona grandis, Melia azadirachta,
Azadirachta indica.                                                  Acacia arabica, Salvadora persica, S.
                                                                     Oleoides, Capparis aphyla and Zyziphus
C. Wetlands of North Gujarat                                         spp are the common vegetation.

1. Nalsarovor Lake                                                   D. Wetlands of South Gujarat

Nalsarovor is the largest water bird                                 1. Thol Dam, Ajwa, Wadhwana and
sanctuary in the country and is one of the                              Pavagadh Lakes
15 wetlands identified by the National
Committee on wetlands for intensive                                  Thol is shallow water reservoir, which
conservation.                                                        covers an area of 699.844ha. Water storage
One hundred and forty (140) species of                               reservoirs and tanks with some associated
water birds, nineteen (19), species of                               marshes in the vicinity of Vadodara and
fishes, seventy six (76) species of                                  main land of Gujarat. These lakes are
invertebrates, seventy four (74) species of                          thought to be representative of the large
macrophytes, mostly terrestrial and forty                            number of small wetlands in eastern
(40) species of phytoplankton were                                   Gujarat and southern Rajasthan.
reported in this area.

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                          ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                                                   Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000

Fauna                                                                Malaysia. These figures suggest a loss of
These tanks and reservoirs support                                   nearly 7,500 km2 of mangrove forests in
>45,000 water birds. Among them about                                these four countries alone representing
900 are Pelicans during January 1998.                                more than 4% of the current global total.
Ajwa Lake supports marsh crocodile the                                        The total area under mangroves in
endangered species.                                                  Gujarat is (FSI 2001). Gujarat
                                                                     has the second largest patch of mangroves
Flora                                                                after W. Bengal. A decrease of
Acacia nilotica, Zizypus sp, Acacia                                  of mangroves in a short time span of 2
leucocephloea, Azadirachta indica, Ficus                             years has been noted from the FSI
sp, Salvadora sp, Prosopis juliflora,                                estimations. However the reason behind
Capparis sp are the important tree species                           the reduction of mangrove coverage
in and around Thol dam.                                              requires sensible justification by thorough
        In other lakes seventeen (17)                                study of the mangrove areas in the state.
species of macrophytes were reported. The                                     Both west and southern regions of
dominant emergents are Ammania                                       the coast is surrounded by 10-13km wide
baccifera, A. multiflora, Bergia sp,                                 marshy zone occupying the inter tidal
Alternanthera sessilis, Cyperus sp, Scirpus                          limits and drained by the muddy channels
sp, Polygonum plebeium and Marcelia                                  in which the sea flows at low tide to join
egyptica. Floating and submerged aquatic                             the main creeks. The swampy coast is
species include species of Chara,                                    dotted with mangroves wherever the depth
Potamageton,       Najas,      Vallisneria,                          at high tide does not exceed a certain limit.
Nymphaea,      Limnanthemum,        Lemna,                           The mangrove formations on this coastline
Wolffia and Hydrilla.                                                are isolated or discontinuous and occur
                                                                     from Kandla, Navlakhi in the north to
                                                                     Jodia, Jamnagar, Sikka, Salaya and Okha
                                                                     along the coast of Gulf of Kachchh.
MANGROVES AND COASTAL                                                         The Gulf of Kachchh (GoK) is the
                                                                     largest Gulf in the entire West Coast,
ECOSYSTEMS IN GUJARAT                                                covering an area of about 7350 km2. The
                                                                     depth of this gulf varies from 20-60 meter,
Mangroves constitute a significant part of                           with a mean of 30 meter. A negative water
tropical coastal biodiversity. They are                              balance characterizes the GoK, where the
found throughout Tropical Asia, where                                evaporation exceeds the sum of
they occupy more than 75,000 km2, or 40%                             precipitation and river runoff (Table 2).
of the world’s total area of mangroves.                              However, large quantities of sediments
Indonesia alone, with 42,530 km2,                                    from River Indus (in Pakistan) get moved
accounts for 23% of the world total; India                           along the Kachchh peninsula and slowly
(with 6,700 km2), Malaysia (with 6,424                               accumulate. This compensates the nutrient
km2), and Bangladesh (with 5,767 km2)                                deficiency in gulf water due to poor runoff
each have over 3% of the world total. Over                           condition. The salinity of GoK increases
the past few decades, mangrove forests in                            from mouth to upstream from 35 to 40 ppt.
Tropical Asia have declined considerably                             The interaction of physical and chemical
as a consequence of human activities. The                            characteristics of the GoK, however,
Philippines and Thailand have experienced                            creates suitable habitat conditions for
reductions of 60% and 55%, respectively,                             diverse life forms in the gulf, especially in
over 25 years. Between 1980 and 1990, the                            the southern side.
area of mangroves declined by more than                                       The dry climatic condition prevails
37% in Viet Nam and more than 12% in                                 in the region for about 8 months in a year

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                          ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                                                   Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000

(eg, In Jamnagar the thermal amplitude is                            A. Gulf of Kachchh - Coastal Ecosystem
120C and average rain is 470mm), poor
rainfall and human interferences acts as                             Gulf of Kachchh, (7, is the
limiting factors to mangrove vegetation in                           major marine system along the southern
the Kachchh although the estimated                                   boundary      of     Kachchh       aligned
coverage is about                                          approximately East-West; the gulf is about
                                                                     170 km long and 75 km wide at the mouth.
                                                                     While the southern coast of GoK is fringed
                                                                     by extensive mud flats, the northern coast
                                                                     mainly formed the tidal flats.

Table 2. Basic Hydrography of Gulf of Kachchh and Khambhat
 Parameters                     Kachchh                    Khambhat
 Area (km2)                     7350                       3120
 Depth Range (m)                20-60                      15-45
 Depth Mean (m)                 30                         20
 Volume (Mm3yr-1)               220,000                    62,400
 River Runoff (Mm3yr-1)         140                        38,000
 Rainfall (Mm3yr-1)             3087                       3500
 Evaporation (Mm3yr-1)          7350                       1560
 Water Balance (Mm3yr-1)        - 4123                     Positive
 Turnover Time (days)           8-51days (Decreasing       4-15days (Increasing
                                upstream)                  upstream)
 Tides (m)                      Jakhau-Kandla 3-8m         Jafarabad-Khambhat 3-12m
                                (Increasing upstream)      (Increasing upstream)
                                Okha-Jamnagar 3-5m         Umbargoan-Luhara Point 6-
                                (Increasing upstream)      10m (Increasing upstream)
 Tidal expanse (km)             Jakhau-Kandla 0.5-2km      Jafarabad-Khambhat 1.5-5km
                                (Increasing upstream)      (Increasing upstream)
                                Okha-Jamnagar 1->5km       Umbargoan-Luhara Point 2-
                                (Increasing upstream)      8km (Increasing upstream)
Source:    Coastal and Maritime Environments of Gujarat: Ecology and Economics, 2000,
           Gujarat Ecology Society, Vadodara.

1. Western Mangroves in Kori Creek                                   patches in the coastal areas of Mundra,
   and near Jakahu                                                   Anjar and Bhachau talukas (GEER, 1999).
                                                                     This is because the Kori creek and Jakahu
Along the 410 km long coastline of                                   areas are very close to the international
Kachchh, mangroves are distributed in the                            border and thus have relative difficult
form of narrow discontinuous patches and                             accessibility and get higher degree of
covered about 727km2 area (GEER, 1999).                              protection against biotic pressures. In these
This is more than 75% of the total                                   areas the trees gain a height of more than 5
mangrove area of Gujarat. In Kachchh,                                meters.
dense and sparse mangroves covered about
344 km2 and 383 km2 areas, respectively.                             Fauna
While, the best mangrove patches are                                 Eighty-six (86) species of water birds, One
found in Kori creek and area around                                  hundred and forty five (145) species of fish
Jakhau coast, there are few remnant                                  and three (3) species of mammals were

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                         ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                                                  Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000

reported. Among the fishes 13 species are                            of several major ports and refineries, the
of     endangered/vulnerable      category.                          mangroves      are      under     constant
Dolphins, Whales and Dogongs found are                               anthropogenic pressure. A study conducted
from the endangered list.Endangered                                  in 1998-1999 (Space Applications Centre
species like Dalmatian Pelican, Indian                               (ISRO), Ahmedabad and Remote Sensing
Skimmer, Spotted billed Pelican are                                  and Communication Centre, Gandhinagar)
reported.                                                            revealed degradation of a large mangrove
        Among the invertebrates Giant sea                            patch measuring up to 1,600 ha.
anemone (Vu), Bonnelia (R&En), Sea
urchin (Th), flat worms and sea worms                                3. Shravan Kawadia-Land                  locked
(Vu) are important.                                                     mangrove ecosystem
Three (3) species of sea turtles Leather
back turtle, Green turtle and Olive Ridley                           Shravan Kavadia is a land locked patch of
are available in these waters.                                       0.7ha mangroves located at about 40km in
        All the species of corals are                                the northeast direction of Bhuj. Most of the
threatened. Acropora sp are endangered                               trees were damaged in 1998 cyclone. The
and probably extinct. Endangered soft                                partially damaged or top broken surviving
coral Paracyanthus indicus is also                                   trees count thirty-six. Average stand height
reported.                                                            was measured 18.5m and the average girth
                                                                     about 240cm. The unique inland mangrove
Flora                                                                patch is an evidence of the ancient
While Kachchh has the maximum                                        shoreline proving the historical evidence
mangrove cover in the State, it displays                             for geomorphologic change in the region at
very low diversity in mangrove species                               a rate of 1.3cm/year is obvious due to the
with 8 species. The area has only one                                Holocene transgression of the sea.
dominating mangrove species–Avicennia
marina. Other species like Rhizophora                                4. Sea grass beds and algal communities
mucronata, Ceriops tagal, Avicennia
officinalis, A. alba, Bruguiera gymnorhiza,                          The extent of sea grass beds is very limited
Sonneratia          apetala,      Aegiceros                          in Gujarat and is restricted to the Gulf of
corniculatum are found in very small                                 Kachchh. Cymodocea ciliata and few other
proportion.                                                          species are only found.
         The mangroves in Kachchh in                                         Gujarat has recorded more than
general are of open scrubby type with low                            200 species of seaweeds. There are about
wooded Avicennia marina and Rhizophora                               39 species of red algae (Rhodophyceae),
mucronata. In Dwarka, Poshitra and                                   25 species of green algae (Chlorophyceae)
Dohlani mostly single species Avicennia                              and 25 species of brown algae
marina is seen.                                                      (Phaeophyceae) in marine National Park.
                                                                     Most of the algal formations are observed
2. Marine National Park                                              between the coastal stretches of Okha to
                                                                     Piraton Island. Genera Valonia sp,
Mangroves of the Marine National Park                                Porphyra, Caulerpa, Ulva, Padina,
(MNP) constitute the second largest patch                            Acetabularia,      Boodlea,      Halimeda,
of mangroves in Gujarat. Extending up to                             Dictyopteris, Asperopsis, Gracillaria,
11,000 ha, these mangroves represent the                             Enteromorpha, Sargassum are found and
richest area in Gujarat comprising six                               are threatened. Sea weeds notably
species of mangrove. Many island in MNP                              agarophytes       (Gracelaria      acerosa,
like Pirotan, Bhaidar and Dhani have good                            Gracillaria sp), alginophytes (Sargassum,
mangroves. However due to the presence                               Cystosiera,         Turbinaria)         and

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                         ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                                                  Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000

carageenophytes (Hypnea, Halemenia) are                              total industrial units are concentrated in
exploited in the gulf.                                               Anjar taluka. Similarly 69% small-scale
                                                                     industries are concentrated in Jamnagar.
5. Coral reef ecosystem                                              Another influencing industry at Kachchh is
Coral reefs are found only in Gulf of
Kachchh, occupied an area of in                              B. Gulf     of         Khambhat-Coastal
1985 and can be divided into three types:                               Ecosystems
rock pool, eulittoral and submerged reefs.
Rock pool reef are found in small                                    1. Gulf of Khambhat
temporary pools located on the top of the
knife edged barren rocks, sprinkled at high                          The Gulf of Khambhat, (3, is
tide with small scattered colonies of                                aligned in a north-south orientation. It is
encrusting coral species of the genera                               marked by the huge interaction of saline
Favia and Montipora.                                                 and fresh waters, providing it the
         Eulittoral reef has a rugged                                characteristics of an extended estuarine
topography with very small pools having                              system. The coastal belt (20km) passes
discontinuously distributed coral species of                         through as many as 6 districts and 19
the genera Turbinaria, Montipora, Favia,                             talukas. The coastal area is about 11,000
Leptoria, Porites, Leptastrea, Gonipora                    
and Goniastrea. The submerged reefs can                                      Due to the unique oceanographic
be further classified into four zones:                               features, the Gulf of Khambhat is the least
shoreward reef, surface reef, surface reef                           explored region in oceans around India.
and oceanic reef. Coral composition of                               Rapid and significant geomorphic changes
submerged is from genera Turbinaria,                                 have been observed during the last two
Montipora, Porites, Leptastrea, Gonipora,                            decades. There have been shoreline
Goniastrea, Favia, Leptoria, Podabacia,                              changes due to erosion and deposition
Pavona and Hydnophora. Acropora sp and                               processes, which is accelerated not only by
other branching corals are rarely present in                         natural geological agents but also through
the Gulf. Huge quantities of the dead tufted                         developmental activities.
branches of Acropora found in this region                                    The Gulf has a unique distinction
may be representing the luxuriant growth                             of having world’s highest tidal amplitude
of branched corals in the past.                                      of about 11m that has potential of
         The gulf holds 40 species of coral                          generation of energy and other dangers as
fauna. Among the 15 reef islands, Okha,                              well. The average precipitation varies from
Sholi Gujar, Dona, Borlia, Saga, Goose                               600mm on the western side to 800mm on
and Piraton consists higher diversity of                             the eastern side. However, about 9000km2
corals. Species such as Favia favus,                                 around the Gulf shows a high
Goniastrea pectinata and Cyphastrea                                  concentration of inherent salts in the
serailia are very common in islands; other                           sediments and ground water has higher
species like Psammocora digitata,                                    salinity reaching 2000ppm and above
Acropora sp, Montipora sp, Siderastrea sp                            (Table 5). Bharuch and Bhavnagar are the
are common.                                                          major salt producing districts of the state.
                                                                             Extensive mudflats, estuaries and
6. Industrial and development Pressure                               creeks with high regime, large quantities of
                                                                     sediment transport characterize the
Jamnagar district has attracted the highest                          Khambhat coast. There are extensive areas
investment of 31% of the state in industrial                         of inter tidal mud and sand flats, coastal
and petrochemicals. Fifty percent of the                             salt marshes and degraded mangrove

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                          ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                                                   Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000

associations, particularly in the deltas of                          3. Industrial and development Pressure
the Mahi and Sabarmati rivers.                                       Groups of chemical, petrochemicals, drugs
                                                                     and pharmaceuticals industries are
Fauna                                                                concentrated on the coastal districts of
Sixty-two (62) water birds were reported                             Bharuch and Surat. Industries that
from the area, which includes the                                    contribute significantly towards water
endangered Indian Skimmer. This area                                 pollution such as chemicals, textiles
supports >50,000 water birds.                                        (dying), and other industries that have
Two marine species of turtle Chelonia                                implications like rubber and its products,
mydas and Lepidochelys olivacea both                                 glass, clay and cement are concentrated in
endangered were reported to be nesting in                            Ahmedabad district except the major
large numbers along the coast and on                                 textile units that are concentrated at Surat.
Piram Island.                                                        Bharuch and Bhavnager are the major salt
                                                                     producing districts of this region.
Flora                                                                         Five new ports at Mithivirdi,
The main vegetation are Juncus sp,                                   Dholera, Hajira, Vansi and Borsi are to be
Fimbristylis tenera, Typha angustata,                                developed by private sector and one at
Ipomoea cornea, Commelina forkalei, C.                               Dahej to be developed by Gujarat
bengalensis, Ker gavl, Echinocloa                                    Maritime Board.
colonum,       Cyperus   iriaai,   Cyperus
difformis, C. compressus, Citrulus                                   C. Saurashtra Coastal Ecosystems
colocynthis,     Tradescantia     axillaries,
Sphaeranthus indicus, Physalis minima,                               Encircled by the open sea, the Saurashtra
Oxalis corniculata, Mimosa pudica,                                   coast is situated between two Gulfs (Long
Lacera      sp,    Hibiscus     cannabinus,                          68058’-71030’ and Lat 22015’-20050’). The
Heliotropium supinum, Chenopodium                                    Saurashtra coast is divisible into two
murale, Caesulia axillaries, Celosia                                 segments, the southwestern coast of
argentea, prosopis juliflora and Cestrum                             Dwarka-Diu facing the Arabian Sea and
equisetifolia.                                                       the Southeastern coast of Diu-Bhavnagar.
         Formerly extensive tracts of                                         The Dwarka-Diu segment stretches
mangroves were found, which were now                                 for about 300km and the coastline is
left to few hectares.Gulf of Khambhat is                             trending NW-SE, from Dwarka to
not rich in mangrove vegetation and                                  Veeraval with smooth and straight sandy
accounts for five per cent of the total                              beaches. The beaches are unusually
mangroves of the state. Along the entire                             calcareous and dominated by bio-clasts,
coastline of Gulf of Khambhat the major                              the consolidated ancient equivalent of
mangrove patches are observed in                                     these biogenic sands are the famous
Bhavnagar (, Bharuch (                               miliolite rocks. The miliolite underlie the
and Surat ( districts.                                       beach sands and occur as cliffs, wave cut
                                                                     platforms and submerged dunes, all along
2. Algal community                                                   the shoreline indicating quaternary sea
                                                                     level fluctuations.
In Gulf of Khambhat algal formations are                                      The     segment    Diu-Bhavnagar
restricted to Mahuva and Gopnath area.                               shows a transition from open sea to gulf
The common genera are Enteromorpha,                                  environment stretching a length of 250km
Ulva and Gracillaria. Mahuva and                                     trending NE-SW between Diu and Talaja
Gopnath have a favorable rocky inter tidal                           and almost N-S between Talaja and
shoreline.                                                           Bhavnagar. The abundance of tidal mud to
                                                                     the east of Diu points to the influence of

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                         ISSN: 1410-5217
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Gulf of Khambhat. The eastern coast                                  by the high salinity and grazing. A younger
extends up to Bhavnagar, beyond which it                             patch of mangroves with an average height
becomes the part of the Gulf of Khambhat.                            of 1m can be observed on the western side
The Shretrunji River, which meets the gulf                           of the approach road to port.
near Gopnath, forms a prominent estuarine                                     Vegetation such as Ipomea pes-
delta at Saltanpur.                                                  caprae, Sporobolus trinules, Fimrystylis
         With gentle gradient the littoral                           sp, Crotolaria sp, Euphorbia nivuleria are
zone is 0.5-1.5km wide and covered with                              seen in the beach and dune areas.
loose calcareous sand. Long shore
currents, high wave energy with surf action                          Industrial and development Pressure
and tides generally low in the range of 2 to                         In Junagadh the industrial group that have
3m characterize the coastline. The climate                           greater dominance are glass, clay and
is semi arid with an average rainfall of 500                         cement, ferrous metal and food industry
to 600mm.                                                            group and in Amreli it is ferrous metal,
         The coastal belt (20km) passes                              food and wood industries.
through two districts, Junagadh and Amreli                           The existing ports like Porbandar, Veraval,
and 13 talukas. Out of the total fish                                Jafrabad facilitate import/export of items
production 645 tonnes 62 per cent                                    such as coal, clinker, fertilizers and salt,
production                was reported from                          fish, cement, soda ash, lime stone etc.
the fishing centers of Junagadh. There are
two developed fishing harbors with allied                            D. South Gujarat Coastal Ecosystems
shore facility at Veeraval and Mangrol and
one more is added at Porbandar.                                      South Gujarat coastline is situated around
                                                                     Long 72050’Eand Lat 20030’ and 20007N.
Fauna                                                                The coastal region of Gujarat is the smaller
Flamingoes, cranes and sea gulls are the                             stretch of coastline (20km), passing
common birds seen feeding in this area.                              through only four talukas of Valsad district
Hilsa ilisha, Hilsa toil, bombay duck,                               and is characterized by high tidal
Harpodon nehereus, silver pompret,                                   amplitude of 8 to 9m. It is with narrow
Pampus       argenteus,      Tiger     shark,                        crescent beaches separated by seaward
Caleocerdo articus, scianids, Otolithus                              projecting headlands beyond Umbergoan.
cuveri, Pseudosciaena diacanthus, O.                                 Inter tidal zone is mad up of basaltic
brunneus, Sciaena glauce, squid, Loligo                              platforms with a veneer of mud. The
duvaucelii, cuttle fish, Sepiella inermis are                        climate is humid with a mean rainfall of
vulnerable due species specific targeted                             1800mm.
catches. Picking of mudskippers is a main
livelihood activity in the muddy areas                               Fauna
                                                                     The diversity is rich with 300species of fin
Flora                                                                and shellfishes. Bombay duck, Harpodon
Mangroves in the vicinity of Pipavav port                            nehereus, sciaenids Otolithus cuveri,
are represented by only one species,                                 Johnieops macrorhynus, J. vogleri, J.
Avicennia marina. The mangrove patch on                              glaucus, J. sina and Protonibea diacanthus
the eastern side of the approach road to the                         form the major catch. Squid, Loligo
Pipavav port showed comparatively good                               duvaucelii, cuttle fish, Sepiella inermis
growth, growing up to 2-3m in height.                                form the cuttle fishery. Trichuurus
However grazing pressure by camels,                                  lepturus, Eupleurogrammus muticus, E.
fodder collection for the cattle and fuel                            intermedius, Lepturacanthus salvala, T.
collection is more in this region. The                               auria, Panuirus polyphagus and Thenus
stunted growth of mangroves is attributed

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                         ISSN: 1410-5217
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orientalis were forming the substantial                              biodiversity. Due to their dominant
percent of catch.                                                    resource use pattern, they also play major
                                                                     roles in conservation of biodiversity.
Mangrove forests in the coastal region                               1.   Fishermen
accounts for a negligible share out of the
total mangroves of the state. It is found                            According to the latest available figure
along the mouth of Kolak estuary and in a                            total fishing population in Kachchh was
small creek near Umbergoan. Dominated                                about 15000 of which active ones were
by Avicennia marina and a luxuriant                                  about 5700. The fishermen are mainly
growth of Rhizophora spp is observed in                              restricted in the coastal tracts. The
the south of Kolak River that attains height                         fishermen who catch fish in the shallow,
about 2m. Scattered mangroves are also                               low tide water and most of them don’t
found on the mudflats of Konai creek and                             even have boats for deep-water fishing are
some other creeks. Gujarat Ecology                                   the poorest among all fishermen
Society had suggested taking up plantation                           communities and are locally known as
activities in south Gujarat coast, as the area                       ‘Pagadiyas’. They sell their fish catch in
is ideal with river run off, high tidal range,                       the local markets. However, there are
wide mudflats and good rainfall.                                     substantial numbers of fishermen own the
                                                                     boats, both mechanized and non-
Industrial and development Pressure                                  mechanized.     Pagadiyas      and     boat
Out of industrial investment of the state                            fishermen, through their association, are in
Valsad district has attracted 2.5 percent of                         most of the cases using traditional fishing
the investments. The small-scale industrial                          gears and follow some self-regulations in
sector is dominated by textile (13.3%),                              fish catching like seasonal breaks etc.
chemical (13.0%), group of industries and                            Importantly, these fishermen community
followed by Machinery except electrical                              also closely associated with the
and transport equipment (9.3%) and rubber                            mangroves and can also play major role in
and its products (7.6%). The coast does not                          mangrove management.
have any major or minor port.
         Valsad is one of the important fish                         2. Pastoralists and cattle breeders
producing districts of the state contributing
about 9% of the total fish production. It                            In Kachchh, animal husbandry is a very
ranks sixth as far as mechanized vessels                             common occupation. Both, settled and
are concerned (24% of the total). Out of                             nomadic pastoralists exist here, commonly
the total 854 fishing villages, Valsad has                           known as ‘maldhari’. Based on the herd
88 with 25% of the total fishing population                          composition of livestock, there are clearly
of the state.                                                        two      distinct   types    of     maldhari
                                                                     communities (a) those who keep cattle and
                                                                     buffaloes and (b) those who keep sheep
                                                                     and goats, belong to ‘Rabari’ and
NATIVE COMMUNITIES                                     OF            ‘Bharwad’ community. Although, milk
                                                                     selling is the main economic activity, but
GUJARAT                                                              the sale of animal also form substantial
                                                                     contribution in the annual income of these
Fishermen and pastoralists are the two                               maldhari communities. In Banni and
major community groups who have                                      Pachchham regions, traditional methods of
substantial dependence on the natural                                livestock breeding still persists, especially
resources,    very    specifically  on                               for cattle and buffalo.

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                         ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                                                  Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000

MAJOR PRESSURES IN                                  THE              sewage and 215Mm3 industrial effluents
                                                                     every year. In addition about 14000 tonnes
COASTAL ECOSYSTEM                                                    of domestic solid wastes are dumped into
                                                                     the sea. Coastal industries generate five
Industrialization        and      consequent                         million tones of solid wastes. There is no
urbanization has brought environmental                               estimates made for agricultural run off into
degradation inland and pressures on the bio                          the sea with increasing levels of pesticides
diversity of the coastal ecosystems. Gujarat                         and fertilizers from the districts of
is considered to be one of the most                                  Kachchh, Kheda, Surat and Valsad that are
polluted states of India. From its traditional                       likely to contribute excess nutrient.
agriculture and textile base it has                                  Pollution of estuaries and downstream
diversified into chemicals, petrochemicals,                          rivers has affected the livelihood of the
drugs and pharmaceuticals, food products,                            local fishermen.
machine and tools, paper and pulp, dye                                        Alang Ship breaking yard is the
stuffs, fertilizers etc.                                             largest scrap yard in the world, has 182
         The state has 41 minor,                                     ship-breaking plots spread over an area of
intermediate         and     major       ports                       10km along the coast. This yard
geographically dispersed across South                                contributes 15 percent of India’s annual
Gujarat (13), Saurashtra (23) and Kachchh                            steel production. Ship breaking yard at
(4). Kandla-Vadinar is a major port in                               Alang generates large amounts of solid
Kachchh. Ten new ports (Four in Kachchh                              wastes, variety of pollutants, including
and six in Khambhat areas) are to be                                 fuel, oil and lubricants, heavy metals like
developed by Private sectors and Gujarat                             tin     and     lead,     chemicals     like
maritime Board (GMB).                                                polychlorinated biphenyls from paints, oil
         Dredging activities for vessel                              sludge, fine powder and sand. The rich
movements,         sedimentation,    shipping                        marine life on Piram Island is imperiled
operations, solid and other waste                                    because of the accumulation of non-
deposition are the destructive pressures                             biodegradable wastes dumped into the
created to the sea floor, coastal habitats                           Gulf of Khambhat.
and other living organisms.                                          Mining the extensive deposits of miliolite
         The pressure on the carrying                                rocks of the quaternary period, overlain by
capacity of the golden corridor is immense.                          calcareous beach sand, which are the raw
Heavy concentration of industries without                            material for soda ash and cement
concern for the carrying capacity of the                             production, is a major threat to the
regions would result in the emergence of                             miliolite beach and sandy shores of
few more clusters such as Dahej or the                               Saurashtra on the Arabian Sea. Soda ash
Gulf of Kachchh, the latter threatening the                          plants in Mithapur, Porbandar and
fragile ecosystem of the Marine National                             Sustrapada release enormous amount of
Park.                                                                wastewater with high contents of
         A recent measure of setting up                              unionized Ammonia and inorganic
common effluent treatment plants (ETP)                               suspended load.
for the industrial units is an emerging                                       In Porbandar, Valsad, Ankleshwar
threat. ETP’s cannot treat certain types of                          and      Bharuch,     Mangrol,      Mandvi,
pollutants like heavy metals, mercury and                            Umbergoan and Pardi are likely to be the
POPs. The disposal of hazardous waste                                hot spots with textile industry being the
and technical capability to measure the                              main source of additional wastewater
emission level need urgent attention.                                discharges.
         The coastal waters of Gujarat can                                    Marine fish landings have
be expected to receive 606Mm3 domestic                               exceeded the maximum sustainable levels.

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                                         ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                                                  Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000

The percentage of the commercially                                   the biodiversity of wetland ecosystems in
valuable varieties has fallen consistently                           Gujarat. A multidisciplinary approach is
over the years. While Gujarat accounts for                           fundamental to the study of this complex
about 30% of the marine food exports, its                            biological community.
share of export earning is only about 10%.
Regulation on the sustainable fishing
practices including terms of mesh size and
gears is urgent.                                                     ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
         Mangroves and corals are under
severe threat in Gulf of Kachchh. Species                            The author acknowledges the Member
diversity of mangroves has virtually                                 Secretary of GEC, Mrs. Vilasini
disappeared from the Gulf of Khambhat.                               Ramachandran, IAS and The Director
         It is high time to act up on these                          GEC, for the facilities provided. I am
crucial pressures to manage the                                      grateful to Dr. Wesley Sunderraj, Scientist,
environment         besides      economical                          GUIDE, Bhuj for his constant guidance.
development.                                                         Thanks are due to the ICEF team members.

CONCLUDING REMARKS                                                   REFERENCES
Gujarat is one of the most diverse kinds of                          GEER .2000. Coastal Marine Environment
wetlands in the country including                                    of Gujarat, Reports. 1-4, 1997, 1998, 1999.
mangroves, coral reefs, beaches, mudflats,                                   Mangroves in Gujarat.
tidal flats, flood plain systems and fresh
water lakes and reservoirs. However,                                 Gujarat     Ecology Commission. 1996.
industrialization       and     consequent                                     Biological Diversity of Gujarat.
urbanization has brought environmental
degradation inland and pressures on the bio                          Gujarat Ecology Society. 2000. State
diversity of the coastal ecosystems. Thus,                                  Environmental Action Programme,
Gujarat is considered to be one of the most                                 Phase I, II. Reports, Gujarat
polluted states of India.                                                   Ecology Commission.
         Wetland ecosystems are unique,
biologically diverse systems recognized as                           Gujarat     Ecology Commission. 2001.
valuable economic and environmental                                            Coastal      and        Maritime
resources. Therefore, is essential to                                          Environments of Gujarat: Ecology
improve the capacity of the scientific                                         and Economics, State of the
community to tackle critical issues of great                                   Environment Gujarat.
complexity and planetary relevance, such
as the conservation and sustainable use of

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India

Journal of Coastal Development                                                   ISSN: 1410-5217
Volume 7, Number 2, February 2004 : 49-64                            Accredited: 69/Dikti/Kep/2000

Wetland Ecosystems and Coastal Habitat Diversity in Gujarat, India