Over 30 metres of the coast in Nettukuppam lost due to sea erosion

All their lives, families of Nettukuppam in north Chennai have been dependent on the sea; now they are afraid of it. A week ago, the sea suddenly took away over 30 metres of their shoreline overnight . At the point where the jagged cemented floor ends, there is a sudden drop and a careless step might send one tumbling down into the roaring waves beneath.

“We have been watching the sea ever since the incident happened. Even at night, we keep our lights on and maintain vigil. We have sent our children to relatives' homes. It is scary even to think that our homes too could be swallowed by the sea,” said Sujatha, one of the women.

The six homes are on 6 Street of Nettukuppam and were reconstructed in situ by the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board after the tsunami in 2004. “Will the State government reconstruct these houses if they are lost again? The Water Resources Department needs to speed up the work on the sea wall as otherwise, we will lose more homes. A house belonging to an old lady was lost last week,” said Joseph, a resident.

A large number of fisherfolk had gathered on the shore to watch the WRD dump boulders to extend the sea wall.

On Monday, residents staged a dharna demanding that the work be expedited. They also objected to the WRD creating wall in the form of a curve.

“We want the wall to be completed before the new moon that falls on May 20 as the sea would become rough then. The wall should also be in a straight line. Only then will we have more space. “Our children used to play cricket on a spot that has now gone missing. There used to vast expanses of sand in this area when we were young. Now, all that is gone and our beach is lost,” said Kalaivanan, another resident.

Sources in the WRD said lack of quarry was the reason for delay in extending the sea wall.

The construction of the wall had earlier been stopped in 2004 due to paucity of funds and was resumed only last week. “We are, however, sourcing boulders from other quarries and speeding up work. Today, there was a delay in the morning because truckers were waiting for ending of ‘rahu kalam' . We will also construct a straight wall as required by the fisherfolk,” the source said.

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