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Beach beautification goes adrift in Kozhikode

BIJU GOVIND
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The silvery sands have become a receptacle for garbage. The whole area remains ill-maintained.

My Garden …like the beach

Denotes there be ……a sea

That's summer…

Such as these… the pearls

She fetches…such as me.

— Emily Dickinson

A beach lures not just bards but anyone who loves the sea. The appeal of the Arabian Sea has made many scout for homes along the coastline of Kozhikode city.

Waking up to the rumble of waves and the cool wafts of air are enticing enough. And then to saunter along the sands or take a five-km walk from the southern end to the Butt Road Junction.

Nevertheless, the Kozhikode beach side is not as spellbinding as it can be. The silvery sands have become a dumping ground for beach-goers to litter plastic cups and leftovers. A few locations on the stretch have been used for dumping household garbage. Residents of sea-facing flats these days have to contend with the stench emanating from the dumped garbage. Two dustbins have been kept, but to no avail.

The State government has spent several crores to beautify the beach areas. A sum of Rs.2.43 crore had been spent under the Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme to develop Butt Road. The Department of Harbour Engineering had executed the beach development project for the Tourism Department. A swimming pool, a cafeteria and four canopies to rest under have been built, and landscaping and floor tiling done early last year.

Today, the interlocking tiles have come off at many areas, posing a risk to visitors. The swimming pool meant for children is filled with rainwater. Their play area has become a cesspool. Further, there is no proper lighting. The whole area remains ill-maintained.

Moving southwards, one wonders if another beautification project is going on the Kamburam-Konnad beach road. But a plaque installed on the site says the project, started in December 2008, was completed in May 2010, and that a sum of Rs.1.2 crore had been spent. Here too, the inter-locking tiles have been damaged. The local people have collected the tiles and arranged them in blocks. Alongside, a drainage line is being constructed.

Full of dirt

“The morning scene on the beach appears to be menacing. It looks dirty everywhere,” says P.S. Mohammed Ashraf, an NRI doctor, living at Apollo Seabreeze, promoted by Apollo Build-Tec (India) Ltd.

Residents of many waterfront apartments echo a similar feeling. Morning walkers hint at the apathy of the civic authorities. Despite this, a few property developers are coming up with mega projects facing the sea, hoping that things will change for the better.

A couple of kilometres after passing the fishing hamlets of Thoppayil and Vellayil is the 1.5-km stretch of the Kozhikode beach. Here too a plaque welcomes visitors saying that the beach development project incurred an expenditure of Rs.3.31 crore.

As other beaches, the granite pavements are broken and the seats facing the sea are in a crumbling state. Only a few lamps are functional and the proposed fountains are yet to be constructed. The Lions Park is open for people to unwind in the evenings. But an old light house remains unattractive. The Corporation office, All India Radio, and several other institutions, besides many apartments, face the sea.

A former councillor, P. Divakaran, says the Kozhikode beach can be made into one of the best beaches in the State. Hundreds of people gather on the beach on weekends and on holidays. The Corporation should take the responsibility for maintaining the area by entrusting the job to Kudumbasree volunteers.

However, officials say the Tourism Department is yet to chalk out a workable arrangement with the Ports Department for the maintenance of the beach.

A reason cited is that the shoreline from Chaliyam to Elathur is a notified port area, meaning that permission from the Port Department is necessary for any such activities. Earlier, the Tourism Department had prepared a memorandum of understanding to be signed with the Ports Department for carrying out maintenance work and generating income from various sources. It has also agreed to share 20 per cent of the revenue, but the MoU is yet to be signed.

BIJU GOVIND


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