Residents divided over sea wall at Valiyaveli
Attempts to construct a sea wall at Valiyaveli have thrown up a dilemma for the authorities, with the public in the locality appearing to be divided on the necessity of these protective measures.
The sea wall was proposed to protect the coastal residents from the regular threats of sea erosion, which escalate during the monsoons. However, the move faced resistance from the Theeradesha Samrakshana Samithi (TSS), a group said to be representing the fishing community in the region, and moved into further turmoil when the Coastal Area Leaders Forum (CALF), claiming to represent the residents of the coast, came forward, opposing the TSS and demanding that the sea wall be constructed.
The tension between the two groups escalated and reached near blows recently when a group of officials reached the spot to study the situation. According to the TSS, the proposed sea wall will hit the livelihood of the fishing community, with the launch and docking of fishing boats and casting of nets from shore to be stopped by the wall. The wall would also destroy the beach, it said, citing the experience of beaches at Panathura, Poonthura, Beemapally, Cheriathura and Thazhampalli after sea walls were constructed there.
The TSS said that alternative models of sea walls could be thought of if the wall was a must and also that the old houses of 58 families, who had been given separate houses and land by the government to save them from sea erosion, be demolished. However, the present proposal for the conventional sea wall, the TSS said, would not be allowed.
A public meeting held by the TSS on Friday urged the government to drop the plan to construct the sea wall and a waste water outlet at the Veli estuary and decided to launch a campaign against the projects. Representatives of CALF alleged that the opposition to the sea wall was politically motivated and that the absence of the wall was putting several hundreds of lives in danger. Fishermen had several other options to dock and launch their boats, CALF president Veli Varghese said.
Alleging that the opposition was being engineered by a few vested interests and arguing that the sea wall would only help in the development of the area, he said the authorities would be pressurised to revive the proposal.