150-m beach vanishes after erosion preventive work

CHENNAI: They were meant to help save the coast from sea erosion. But in just six months, about 150 metres of sandy beach along Kovalam has been eaten by the sea, allegedly due to unscientific laying of  groynes by the State Fisheries Department.

The department has dumped large boulders to create eight groynes dotting the Kovalam coast, ranging from five to 200 metres in length, apparently for the benefit of fishing community.
As Express reported in April, the work was undertaken without obtaining the mandatory environmental clearance.

The Kovalam-Muthukadu coast which witnessed unprecedented sea erosion after the construction of groyne field  | Express

According to the Coastal REgualtion Zone (CRZ) notification 2011, the beach area in which a row of groynes had come-up, falls under the CRZ IV (waterbody) and CRZ I (intertidal zone), where construction of any kind is strictly prohibited without obtaining prior CRZ clearance from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority and the Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority.

The work was halted for a while, but only to be restarted  and completed in just six months, which is now causing the chewing up of the beach front.

This despite a blanket ban on groynes by the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which had ordered the Fisheries Department to remove the groynes.

The structures that were set up without clearance from the competent authority were ‘illegal’, said the tribunal following a petition by Ossie Fernandes and CH Balamohan. “We direct the Department of Fisheries to remove the groynes forthwith within 10 days and summit a report,” the bench had said in the order about a month ago.

The immediate victim is the experimental station of the Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA), which now has the water hitting the compound wall exposing its foundation.

“The compound wall may collapse anytime and water would enter the facility. We have created a barrier using sand bags to arrest the erosion, but it doesn’t work during high tide.

Cyclonic activity is expected during monsoon in which case the facility is under increased risk unless proper measures are taken. We have requested the Fisheries Department to provide remedial measures,” a senior scientist told the Express.

Sources said CIBA officials were planning to submit a detailed report to  Gagandeep Singh Bedi, Secretary to the Fisheries Department.

But the department defended the project, stating that they would pursue legal measures if required.
Groynes laid unscientifically Sources said experts from IIT Madras had reportedly recommended to the Fisheries Department engineers to construct the first 200 metres groyne on the Muthukadu front, but for reasons unknown, it was built south of Kovalam village.

“When we first went to meet the IIT-M experts on the issue, a professor had called the Fisheries Department engineer and questioned how the blunder had happened. After that, the department has built three small groynes closer to the CIBA experimental station, but they are not of much help,” an official said.

“We can’t remove the groynes. People are only talking about erosion on the northern side, but nobody is talking about the new beach that has been formed on the southern side where the Kovalam village is located. The erosion will subside gradually. We are hopeful of getting CRZ clearance in a week’s time or else will explore legal options of moving the Supreme Court,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.

The original article appeared on The New Indian Express on 04th November 2016 – read it here


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