Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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The Republic of India

A specialist from India attended a regional workshop on ‘Integrated Coastal Management’ (Chabahar, Iran, February 1996). One resource person from India was invited to organize and give a series of lectures at a regional training course on the ‘Use of Remote-Sensing Techniques in Coastal Research and Management’ (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, December 1996). A training, as part of a project on ‘Development and Monitoring of Freshwater from Lakes and Groundwater in the Coastal Area of Gujarat – India’ was conducted from 1 October 1997 to 4 January 1998. A regional workshop on the ‘Conservation and Sustainable Management of Coral Reefs’ was held in December 1997.

Two field projects were started in Gujarat in 1999: the ‘Environmental, Social and Cultural Implications of a Ship-breaking Industry’ (ASSBY) and the ‘Impact of Integrated Salinity Control Measures on the Socio-cultural Environment’. The second project later developed into ‘Mitigating Land and Water Salinity in the Gujarat Coastal Region’. An expert from the project area attended the intersectoral workshop ‘Towards Wise Coastal Development Practices’ held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in the beginning of December 1998. A report on the workshop was published in English and French as CSI info 10 (2000): ‘Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development. Results of an Intersectoral Workshop and Preliminary Findings of a Follow-up Virtual Forum’. The delegate from India presented a paper on the Alang ship-breaking yard.

In November 1998 a regional workshop on the ‘Conservation and Sustainable Management of Coral Reefs’ was held in India. Five specialists from India contributed to a ‘Manual of fish eggs and larvae from Asian mangrove waters’ (UNESCO-ISME, 1998).

Since July 1999 web-based discussions on drinking water supply, ship breaking, coastal management and salt extraction in India have been taking place on the ‘Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development’ Forum. Papers on Indian topics, added in 2000, include: ‘The Social Cost of Salt Extraction’, ‘Changing the Cycle of Debt and Dependency’, ‘Salt Flats: Exploitable Resources or Rich Ecosystems?’, ‘Conserving Water to Offset Drought’, ‘Converting an Adversary into an Ally’, ‘Balancing Global and Local Industry Concerns with Environmental and Social Change/Alang’, ‘The Future of the Wise Practices Forum an Asia-Pacific Regional Perspective’, ‘People’s Participation in Water Conservation/Gujarat’. A report on the forum ‘Work in Progress 2’ /  ‘Progrčs Accomplis 2’ / ‘Avance de Actividades 2’ was published in November 2000. Three people from India contributed to the report. Another paper relevant to India was posted in July 2002: Transparency and Trust: Development Projects in Tanzania and India’ .

The field project on the Alang ship-breaking yards (ASSBY) has investigated the environmental and social conditions around the yards. Recommendations for wise practice relating to the conservation of soil, water, plant and wildlife resources have been made. A team (eleven from India) visited Alang in February 2000 to evaluate the project and to investigate the feasibility of setting up a UNESCO Chair on coastal matters at Bhavnagar University, to complement the project activities. Surveys were conducted (January-June) to collect baseline data. Discussions were held with local non-governmental organisations and an agriculture school to get their ideas on what biological and social indicators could be derived from the survey data. A representative from the ASSBY project visited UNESCO head quarters in March 2000 to discuss the project. He made a presentation on the ‘Bhavnagar Plain – Story of Coastal Change’. 

In July 2000 project leaders, UNESCO Chair holders and UNESCO staff met in Bangkok (Thailand) to discuss strategies for advancing and networking the field projects and university chairs in the Asia-Pacific region. Six universities in India (University of Bhavnagar), Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Thailand signed an agreement to set up a UNITWIN (university twinning) network to reinforce interdisciplinary teaching and training in coastal matters in February 2002. 

A summary of the ship-breaking project was compiled in September and up-dated in November 2000. A team of six experts visited the area in December 2001 to assess the project. They evaluated it on the basis of 16 wise practice characteristics, and gave advice on how the project might be developed. In conjunction with the division of water sciences the project will provide recommendations on a plan for water resources management (economic, social and ecological), around the ship-breaking yards and their associated villages, and how to implement it.

In November 2000 eighty representatives from ten villages attended a meeting of stakeholders and put forward their views on depletion and pollution of water resources, environmental damage, air and noise pollution, regeneration of forests, employment opportunities and loss of agricultural land to industry. A meeting of seventy-two migrant workers in December discussed living and working conditions, safety, social life, integration, health education, implementation of labour laws and wages.

Two people from the ASSBY project attended a workshop for CSI field project leaders on ‘Wise Practices for Conflict Prevention and Resolution’, which was held in Mozambique in November 2001. A report of the workshop was published as CSI papers 12: ‘Managing Conflicts Over Resources and Values: Continental Coasts’. Both the Indian delegates presented papers: ‘Wise Practices for Conflict Resolution between Villagers and Migrant Workers: Economic Co-operation and Social Segregation, Alang Sosiya Ship-Breaking Yard’ and ‘The Latent Role of Research in Conflict Management at the Alang Sosiya Ship-Breaking Yard

A study of water use and availability in the vicinity of the ship-breaking yards was completed in 2002 with additional funding from UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme.

Two Indian members of the field project team, one from the University of Bhavnangar and one from the Gujarat Maritime Board, attended the Asia-Pacific University Twinning (UNITWIN) Workshop  ‘Exploring Wise Practice Agreements’ that was held in Khuraburi, Thailand in November 2002. 

A report, ‘Lonely Ship-breakers Sitting Atop Ticking AIDS Bomb’, on the incidence of HIV infection in Alang was published in the Times of India in May 2003. It was estimated that 5% of the population is infected; this is the highest rate in Gujarat and is particularly worrisome in a mobile, migrant population such as the ship-breakers.


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