At today’s staff meeting, Geography graduate student Prashant Hedao, presented his work on the rehabilitation of coastal communities impacted by the 2004 tsunami in southern India. Hedao joined forces with his wife Lata Iyer, Regional Planner, to research feasible long-term solutions for Tamil Nadu state government to implement in coastal areas targeted by tsunamis, other extreme weather events, and a rise in sea level. Due to the tragic 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake off the coast of Sumatra that resulted in a tsunami, impacting 14 countries, the Indian government lacked a holistic approach to tsunami planning and rehabilitation strategies.
Hedao and Iyer used applications from GIS, remote sensing, and ecological restoration of coastal ecosystem, while working with other experts at the Knowledge/Coordination Centre in Auroville, near Pondicherry. The Centre was a collaboration among government agencies and NGO’s working to prepare the coastal areas for disaster planning, and to mitigate impacts of the 2004 tsunami. Because the topography in coastal cities is very low lying and prone to sea level rise and coastal erosion, Hedao and Iyer sought more long-term solutions—such as promoting sand dunes as natural first lines of defense, and encouraging mangrove conservation. Read more about Hedao and Iyer’s work at the ESRI website (see below).