The Union Territory of Lakshadweep comprises of a group of islands in the Arabian Sea between latitude 8o E and 12o 30' N and between longitude 71o and 74o E and are located at a distance ranging from 200 km to 400 km from the mainland. There are in all 27 islands, 3 reefs and 6 submerged sandbanks. Only 10 islands are inhabited with very low ground elevation in meters above Mean Sea Level (MSL). These Lakshadweep islands are Agatti: 3.0- 6.0 m, Amini: 0.5-2.5, Andrott: 1.0-7.0m, Bitra: 0.8-4.0m, Chetlat: 1.5-5.5 m, Kadmat:2.5-6.5, Kalpeni: 1.5-5.5m, Kavaratti:2.0-6.0m, Kiltan: 0.6-4.0 and Minicoy: 1.5-70m. One islands Bangaram and one island Bangaram (-0.1 to 0.4m only) has a tourist resort only.
The total geographical area of the territory is 32 sq. km. All land is classified as agricultural land and the land use area is 28.5 sq. km. According to 2011 Census, the inhabited Islands had a total population of 60595. The Lakshadweep group of islands viz. Kavaratti, Amini, Kiltan and Agatti witnessed a very damaging cyclonic storm event during 5th – 7th May. Concerned with the likely hazards and the vulnerabilities in these low contour islands situated in isolation in the huge Arabian Sea, the Ministry of Home Affairs constituted a National Task Force vide OM No.31-2/2005-NDM-II dated 30th March to carry out a special study of the Lakshadweep islands to assess vulnerability to various hazards and suggest mitigation /prevention measures.
As per the terms of reference, the Task Force conducted 5 meetings and some of the members visited Lakshadweep Islands. Based on the deliberations as well as findings of the field visit, the Task Force has prepared the report related to vulnerability of these islands to various natural and man made hazards and certain mitigation and prevention measures to address these issues.
Accordingly, this report has been prepared to identify the natural and man made hazards and the major factors underlying or enhancing the vulnerabilities. Recommendations are made for immediate as well as long terms measures to reduce the risk in future. Task Force recommends some immediate measures to reduce the isolation of the islands by better connectivity electronically as well as by air and sea travel facilities.
The National Task Force places on record its appreciation for the help and guidance provided by JS (DM) Shri Ashim Khurana and Director (DM II), Shri Reddy Nagabhushan Rao during its working as well as organization of the visit to the Lakshadweep Islands. Thanks are due to Shri Parimal Rai, Lakshadweep Administrator and Shri Madhup Vyas, Collectoer cum Development Commissioner, and their team of officers for facilitating visit of the Task Force members to the Islands and providing the necessary data and concerns of the population.
Each island is fringed by coral sands, and is marked by huge, shallow, calm lagoon on the western side which separates it from incoming swells of the outer sea by the wall of a reef madeup of massive coral boulders and live corals.
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. The total geographical area of the territory is 32 sq. km. All land is classified as agricultural land and the land use area is 28.5 sq. km. The lagoons cover 4200 sq. km. with 20,000 sq. km. of territorial waters and about 0.4 million sq. km. of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Length of coastline of UT of Lakshadweep is 132 km.
|Lakshadweep Island Diving|
One of the earliest natural calamities recorded was the great storm that stretched the Lakshadweep Islands in April 1847. In 1891, a violent storm struck upon Kavaratti, Island causing considerable
damage to coconut trees. The storm did a great deal of damage in Agatti and its attached islets
and the Amindivi group of islands. Other major storms to have hit the islands are Kalpeni Island
in 1922, Kavaratti in 1941, and Andrott in 1963, Andrott and Kalpeni in 1965 and 1977,
Coastal erosion is one of the serious problems being faced by the Lakshadweep group of
islands. Studies on baseline data on erosion and the accretion cycle were carried out by the Center
for Earth Science Studies (CESS), Thiruvananthapuram, in four islands viz. Kavaratti, Agatti,
Amini and Bangaram during 1990-1993 and for other four islands viz. Kadmat, Chetlet, Kiltan
and Bitra during 1997-2001. These studies reveal net accretion of 21.43-m3/ m in Kadmat and
11.05 m3/m in Chetlet islands during the study period. The Kiltan Island showed net accretion as
well as seasonal erosion at certain stretches. Major part of the of Kiltan island has been
undergoing erosion on the east coast.
The wave climate and power potential of the seas surrounding Lakshadweep islands studied by the CESS using wave data collected with a Direction Wave rider Buoy deployed off Kavaratti reveals that Lakshadweep sea is influenced by the southwest monsoonal winds. Waves generally do not exceed the height of 5 m during November-March. During southwest monsoon the dominant values of maximum wave height is around 5 m and during the non-monsoon season it is around 1.4 m. The significant wave heights range from 0.4 to 4.7 m, the lowest being observed in February and the highest in August. The maximum wave height observed during the one year period is 8.95 m in August.
The Lakshadweep has a total population of about 65,000 with a sex ratio of 1:1. Each of the inhabited islands has a junior, Senior Basic Schools as well as Nursery Schools and Madarsas. Some of these schools have been identified as shelters incase of an emergency. It has been observed that these schools have been located on the ground elevation of the island, which is prone to inundation during heavy rains as well as cyclonic conditions. These schools have limited drinking water, sanitary facilities as well as facilities for storage of civil supplies during an emergency and have not adequate facilities to accommodate more than 50% of the population during the time of disaster. The maximum wave height observed during the one year period is 8.95 m in August. The constructions of most of these schools are not in tune with the recommended design criteria.