On Tuesday, December 3, Union Minister, Harsh Vardhan dismissed all reports regarding Mumbai getting submerged due to supposedly rising sea levels, asserting that there was no such threats. While addressing the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Minister of Earth Sciences Harsh Vardhan urged MPs to trust the research of Indian scientists and their data which is "rated best in the entire world". Recently UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had voiced deep concern over the rising level of oceans and listed India as one of the most vulnerable areas along with Japan, China, and Bangladesh. Harsh Vardhan addressed the concerns of the Congress and Samajwadi Party members who raised certain questions during the Question Hour.
"From 1876 till 2005 average sea level rise in Mumbai is 0.74 mm. In coastal vulnerability maps, Mumbai has been not listed in threat zone. Accordingly, the sea level at Mumbai coast will increase by 33.3 mm or 3.33 cm from the current level in 2050, he said." said Union Minister Harsh Vardhan.
The Union Minister stated that all of the speculations around Mumbai being submerged have arisen due to media reports based on something said outside the country, pointing to the UN Secretary General's recent statement as well as the study published by Climate Central, a non-profit organization. The Minister said the available data and model studies do not indicate inundation in a major part of southern Mumbai occurring at least once a year during 2040-50, as published in the international report. "The approximate rise in the sea levels (to 33.3m by 2050) has been estimated by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Service (INCOIS) based on the long term trends in sea-level change using data recorded by the sea level gauge of Mumbai located at Apollo Bandar," said Harsh Vardhan.
On allegations by the opposition in Rajya Sabha saying that the government was trying to play down the issue, the Minister said: "I must tell you, this is the same country which was literally caught unaware in 2004 when we had a tsunami." Today, India is rated as the number one country in the world for cyclone and tsunami predictions. There is no reason we should doubt the capabilities of our scientists, he added. He also talked about how India was also sharing data on cyclone with other countries along the coast.
UN General Secretary António Guterres had stressed that unless nations are able to reverse the climate change for 300 million people will be flooded by seawater in the world by 2050. "Dramatically, the most vulnerable areas are exactly in Southeast Asia, in Japan, China, Bangladesh, and India," he said adding that Thailand risks having 10 percent of its population in flooded areas by the sea. A recent study by non-profit organization Climate Central was published in the journal Nature Communications. Guterres emphasized that people can discuss the accuracy of these figures, but it is clear that climate change is "running faster than what we are and is the biggest threat to the planet at the present moment, the defining issue of our time".