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Capacity Building Activities

Institute of Environmental Studies & Wetland Management (IESWM)

Capacity building in major centres of coastal research and study in West Bengal is an important component of the development of facilities for integrated coastal zone management in the state. One of the centres that have been identified for this purpose is Institute of Environmental Studies & Wetland Management (IESWM), Government of West Bengal.

The objectives of capacity building for ICZM in IESWM are to provide new and cutting edge equipment, computer hardware and software that could be successfully used on-site and off-site as part of some identified investigations of importance. The objective is also to address some current fundamental scientific issues related to ICZM deploying these equipments so as to verify their efficacy in addressing emerging coastal research issues. Such capacity building will also pave the way for taking up in future other major issues of ICZM. In short the program includes the following:

  • procurement and installation of some advanced field monitoring instruments to monitor coastal processes in the Sundarban area of West Bengal,
  • procurement and installation of remote sensing related hardware and software at IESWM office at Kolkata, to supplement physical monitoring of coastal processes, including registering of micro level change in form elements of the coastal landscape and
  • undertaking one research program (deploying the instruments, software and hardware) on modeling of coastal form-process responses in Sundarban due to climate change
  • Assitance towards construction and operation of an Interpretation Centre on the Sundarbans by Tagore Society for Rural Development

Coastal Studies Division (CSD) of IESWM Activities

IESWM [formerly known as Institute of Wetland Management & Ecological Design (IWMED)] under the Department of Environment, Government of West Bengal has been working in the coastal areas of West Bengal using mainly remote sensing (RS) & geographical information system (GIS) technology for the last 20 years. One of the major thrust areas where RS and GIS technology has been immensely useful was in the field of coastal zone management which is exclusively the domain of activity of one of the divisions [Coastal Studies Division (CSD)] of IESWM. The activities of CSD are presently being carried out in collaboration with Space Applications Centre (SAC), National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), Ministry of Environment & Forests (MOEF) and Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India (GOI). Major activities of CSD of IESWM in the field of coastal zone studies & management are preparation of natural resources inventory and formulation of management plans pertaining to coastal wetlands, mangroves, coral reefs, etc, monitoring of basic physical processes operative in the estuarine and near shore areas, implications of climate change and related phenomena in the coastal regime of West Bengal. Progressively greater emphasis is being given towards acquiring of instrumental and computational facilities for building up of form-process-material interaction models currently operative and also expected under different climatic scenarios in different segments of West Bengal coast.

The above core activities and research of CSD was initiated by a small group of earth scientists, especially geologists but later on, scientists from other related disciplines like botany, environmental science, atmospheric science, RS and GIS were inducted for developing a multi-disciplinary approach to research problems at hand.

Till recently majority of research works involved use of both visual and digital image processing techniques for mapping and inventorying purposes supplemented by detailed ground truth verification for form identification and mapping. Subsequently techniques relating to Geographical Information System (GIS), Global Positioning System (GPS), Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) etc were introduced for a multi-disciplinary approach. Very recently, dynamic process and material monitoring in estuarine and near shore areas including time lapse recording of bathymetry, tidal ranges, wave period, tide and wave velocity, sediment size etc have been introduced.

Noting the work carried out by this division of IESWM in the coastal zone, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India has recognised IESWM as an authorised institute for demarcation of High Tide Line (HTL), Low Tide Line (LTL) and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) along the Indian coast in 1998.

Projects of CSD

A number of projects have already been completed by CSD of IESWM with the application of Remote Sensing & GIS and other related technologies. Some of the important ones are mentioned below:

  • Wetland mapping of West Bengal
  • Wetland mapping of Tripura
  • Status of surface water resources of Howrah, Burdwan and Nadia districts of West Bengal
  • Mapping and monitoring of coastal wetlands of West Bengal using ERS-1 SAR Data
  • Wasteland mapping of Koch Behar district of West Bengal
  • Land use mapping of coastal regulation zone of West Bengal
  • Coastal studies project
  • Upgradation of coastal zone maps of West Bengal
  • Wetland Information System
  • Coastal Zone Management for selected areas of West Bengal

The list of important on-going projects is as follows:

  • Preparation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan for identified coastal stretches of West Bengal
  • Coastal zone studies for West Bengal and Andaman Islands
  • Ecosystem modeling of parts of Sundarban
  • Development of location specific oil spill trajectory models (OSTM) along Hugli estuary under ‘COMAPS’ programme

Through different activities carried out during last 15 years or so, CSD of IESWM has collected and is collecting data on coastal processes of West Bengal. Some of the important works, which have already been carried out along coast are mentioned below:

  • Erosion / Deposition along major estuaries
  • Changes in land use and land cover
  • Changes in floral composition of mangroves
  • Changes in land cover due to change in management practices
  • Changes in saline incrustation pattern
  • Sea level rise and shoreline changes

A modest beginning has also been made in the study of carbon sequestration and in regional model generation on sea level rise.

Proposed programme

Compared to the responsibilities bestowed upon CSD for tackling coastal zone management issues including progressive need of coastal process monitoring with available infrastructure and equipment facilities, a crippling lack of adequate advanced monitoring equipments, their continuous field deployment and appropriate processing of continuous data sets are proving to be a major hindrance. In order to provide adequate support in the activities in the above areas it is proposed to equip the existing RS and GIS laboratory and the Estuarine & near shore survey & research (ENSSR) unit of CSD of IESWM with state-of-the–art facilities thereby augmenting the Division’s capabilities and upgrading the facilities to a national standard. The upgradation has been linked to a proposed topical research programme involving inter alia continuous data acquisition on estuarine and near shore form, process and response dynamics in Sundarban area of West Bengal.

Over the last 150-200 years climate change has been taking place rapidly and certain plant and animal species have found it hard to adapt. Human activities are said to be responsible for the speed at which this change has occurred and it is now a cause of concern. Although, there are controversies and doubts regarding the scale of climate change and consequent sea level rise, after the publication of Fourth Assessment Report of IPCC, it has been accepted world wide that global climatic change is a reality and the mankind should start preparing to adapt and perhaps mitigate the same.

Global climate and sea level changes will have severe impact on the highly populated coastal zones all over the world. Currently the changes are not only threatening the very existence of coastal installations, constructions and investments but also creating serious impediments for demarcation of boundaries of coastal zones based on high tide line. In order to formulate any worthwhile coastal zone management plan of West Bengal especially of the Sundarban region, it is therefore imperative to work out the changing morphology of the major estuaries of Sundarban, to identify and monitor the dynamic rate of coastal erosion / accretion and to record land use changes in the Sundarban using principally RS and GIS techniques.

The other important area of research, that will have a direct bearing on response of climate change in the Sundarban, is continuous field measurements of estuarine/coastal process and response parameters. This will include such process parameters like tides, waves, weather and their responses like possible sea level rise through time, estuarine bathymetry, suspended sediment concentration, bottom sediment characteristics, etc. The measured data sets of these variables over a sufficient long period of time would then provide the necessary input towards understanding of the impact of perceived climate change on estuarine dynamics of the Sundarban and towards reliable application of climate change model for realistic prediction of sea level rise, change in estuarine process dynamics and related adjustment of estuarine form elements with their material make up like suspended sediment concentration, bed load transport rate and bottom sediment characteristics.

Work Elements of proposed programme
The proposed research programme on Estuarine dynamics of Sundarban and their response to possible climate change will be implemented through integrated efforts of the RS & GIS laboratory and Estuarine & near shore survey & research (ENSSR) unit of CSD. The major work elements are as follows:

RS & GIS laboratory

  • Procurement of digital data products (of Sundarban region of West Bengal), appropriate hardware and software for extraction of relevant information relating to
  • morphological changes and channel geometry of major estuaries of Sundarban since the earliest days of remote sensing
  • shoreline changes across the Sundarban since the earliest days of remote sensing
  • Procurement of one license of appropriate software of hydraulic modeling (MIKE 21) from DHI

Estuarine & near shore survey & research (ENSSR) unit

  • Design and construction of five permanent tide gauge stations with solar power supply system on five estuaries, viz., Saptamukhi, Matla, Bidya, Raimangal and Thakuran.
  • Selection, procurement, installation (at five permanent tide gauge stations) and calibration of
  • 5 nos Tide gauge (strain gauge type) with display option
  • 1 no Automatic weather station with sensors for wind speed & direction, precipitation, humidity, temperature and atmospheric pressure
  • 5 nos DGPS with V-sat system for data transmission
  • 1 no post processing software (gammit/bernes)
  • 3 no Directional Tide gauge & wave recorder with optional turbidity sensor for mobile campaign
  • 3 no. of Wave and Tide Recorder with the optional sensors
  • 2 nos of Recording Current Meters with light mooring frame/ bottom mounted frame, battery etc with sensors like conductivity, Pressure, Temperature, Oxygen, Turbidity and wave tide sensor.
  • 2 nos Recording Doppler Current Profilers upto a depth range of 300 meters
  • 1 no Eco-sounder
  • 1 no. of Bathymetry data recording software
  • 1 no Bottom sediment sampler

Required Facilities
In order to attain greater sophistication in RS & GIS Laboratory, to provide input in integrated coastal zone management issues and to address emerging issues relating to research on climate change, high level computing system and specific climate research software are required as follows.

  • Computer systems with networking facilities
  • Software for Marine & Estuarine system
  • Image analysis software
  • Digitisation software
  • GIS software
  • Data Base Management software
  • Input / output devices like large format scanner cum plotter
  • Ground truthing systems (DGPS, radiometer, equipment for sediment measurements, chlorophyll , coral reef conditions, etc)

The cost of implementation of the project over a perod of 5 years including the cost of procurement of the required instruments is as follows:

In Indian Rupees

I. Manpower


II. Equipment

19478000.00 + 2,05,50,000.00

III. Travel


IV Other Costs


V Tagore Society for Rural Development