S. Anil Radhakrishnan

Project firm cites delay in payment

ASR spends Rs.4 crore to conduct studies in Kovalam

The reef is expected to protect the eroding coast

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Although the government has accorded administrative sanction for the Rs.7.8-crore multi-purpose reef to be set up off the Kovalam coast, the work, which has been suspended since February, is yet to commence following the delay in making the payment.

The New Zealand-based Artificial Surfing Reef (ASR) Ltd., which had taken up the project, has decided to commence the work only on getting the payment.

The ASR had already spent Rs.4 crore to conduct studies in Kovalam and for procuring equipment from Australia and Germany for the reef.

The company had to run from pillar to post for the last six months to get the nod from the government even after the empowered committee of Secretaries on January 20 cleared the hike in work cost - from Rs.4.05 crore to Rs.7.8 crore - in view of the increase in volume of the reef.

The administrative sanction was issued after the company made it clear that it was planning to pull out from the project following the delay in approving the revised estimate.

Official sources said the company had informed that they would commence the work only after getting the payment from Kerala Tourism.

The company had not been given any fund till date for the project being implemented by Kerala Tourism under the Centre’s Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme (TRP) through the Department of Harbour Engineering.

The fate of the reef project is in limbo as it had to be completed before March to avoid lapse of funds. Official sources said the time-frame for implementing the projects, including the reef, under the TRP was likely to be extended.

Company officials had already held talks with the Harbour Engineering Department to sign the supplementary agreement. The funds had also to be transferred to Kerala Tourism for making the payment.

Project officials told The Hindu that about 60 days were needed for completing the works. It would be a big challenge to take up a work of this nature now as the sea had turned rough.

An excavator, barge and a boat hired by the company for the work had reached the spot weeks ago. All materials for the reef had reached the worksite on the Harbour Engineering premises near Vizhinjam.

The reef is being set up 150 metres from the Light House Beach and 110 metres from the Light House.

The artificial reef is expected to protect the severely eroding coast, improve the ecology and make the resort a premier round-the-year surfing destination.