NGO Coastal Watch calls for urgent and sustainable measures for coastal conservation in Kerala’s capital district

The popular Shanghumugham beach in Thiruvananthapuram was badly damaged due to sea erosion recently.   | Photo Credit: S. MAHINSHA

Blaming unscientific coastal structures for the worsening coastal erosion in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala, the NGO Coastal Watch, Thiruvananthapuram, has urged the State government to abandon the Vizhinjam international seaport project as well as the move to construct more harbours and 'hard structures' such as seawalls and groynes.

A Coastal Watch report, 'Evicted coastal communities: Problems and solutions', has blamed the breakwater being constructed for the Vizhinjam port for the severe erosion in the coastal villages north of it. Only a small portion of the breakwater has been completed, but even this has triggered unprecedented wave action in the adjacent fisheries harbour and the formation of a sandbar at its mouth, imperilling the lives of fishermen, notes the study. It also seeks a constructive review of the ₹5,300 crore package announced in the State Budget for coastal conservation.

''The government should urgently take steps to abandon the construction of the Vizhinjam international port, which poses a major threat to the life and livelihood of the coastal community and to prevent further destruction,'' according to the study.

‘End erosion’

'Hard structures' such as groynes and breakwaters impede natural sediment transport and have proven to be short-term solutions for coastal protection. 'Soft structures' such as geotubes should be experimented with for coastal conservation, instead. Seawalls are harmful in the sense that they are weakened by the scouring of sand from its base. They also cause 'end erosion' in the coastal stretches on either side of it, the study noted.

Calling for sustainable coastal protection measures, Coastal Watch also advises against the use of concrete tetrapods that are now widely used. Further, the organisation has urged the government to scrap plans for new harbours, including the one at Pozhiyoor.

Coastal Watch also demanded the State government to review the 'Punargeham' project, which seeks to rehabilitate families residing within 50 metres of the tidal zone. The project earmarks ₹6 lakh per family for purchasing land and ₹4 lakh for constructing a house, irrespective of rural and urban locations. This is inadequate, the study noted.

A State-level coastal rehabilitation agency to be formed under the Chief Minister for the proper resettlement of families from the fishing community. Public land, including property held by the church, should be used for the rehabilitation, the study noted.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 6:14:36 AM |

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