Sand erosion at RK Beach in Visakhapatnam due to man-made structures and cyclones raises safety concerns

Scientists suggest beach nourishment, growing of trees and beach weeds to help check erosion

Published - December 07, 2023 01:07 am IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

A section of the Baby Park on the Beach Road that was washed away by the high tide, under the influence of cyclone Michaung,  in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.

A section of the Baby Park on the Beach Road that was washed away by the high tide, under the influence of cyclone Michaung, in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: K.R. DEEPAK

The partial caving in of the boundary wall of the baby park, and the edges of the concrete floor of the park, close on the heels of cyclone Michaung, at RK Beach, has once again raised concerns on the safety of man-made structures, located right on the beach.

The erosion of sand has caused the partial caving of the park wall. Though deposition and erosion of sand is a common phenomenon, based on various factors, man-made issues are causing problems and failure to take remedial measures can have serious consequences, say scientists.

“Sand erosion is a temporary phenomenon. During winter, the deposition of sand takes place in one direction and in summer it takes place in the opposite direction, thereby maintaining an overall balance. Man-made constructions leads to sand erosion and disturbs the balance,“ Chief Scientist and Scientist of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Vizag, V.V.S.S. Sarma told The Hindu, when contacted on Wednesday evening.

“During cyclone time, the waves would be more and erosion would increase due to extreme current. The baby park (near RK Beach) is close to the shoreline and hence, erosion will be more at this place. It has to be observed for a few weeks, before initiating remedial measures like beach nourishment,” says Mr. Sarma.

A study on ‘Coastal erosion – beach profiling’, conducted by the CSIR-NIO, Visakhapatnam, between 2011 and 2015, had shown wide changes on the water front, which helped in estimating the sand accretion and erosion, says G.P.S. Murty, who has retired as Chief Scientist and Scientist-in-Charge of National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Visakhapatnam.

“During surge or cyclonic weather, beach erosion is common. It had happened in the past also. Beach nourishment, growing of coconut and casuarinas trees and beach weeds can help in checking sand erosion to a great extent. Ahead of the International Fleet Review (IFR) held in Vizag in 2016, the stretch of beach, between RK Beach and YMCA Beach was nourished by dumping dredged sand,” says Mr. Murthy.

A study on ‘Erosional and depositional pattern, along Visakhapatnam’ by Kollu Sai Satya \Mounika of the Department of Geology, Andhra University, between January and December 2019, has noted that deprivation of natural nourishment is posing serious problem to the beach, especially between Naval Coast Battery and the Lawson’s Bay area.

“This erosion is further supplemented by storms during cyclones. She suggested construction of groynes at suitable intervals to trap the sand that comes in and nourishes the beach. The pumping of the dredged sand towards this part may also help to some extent in stabilising the beach from further erosion,” she suggests.

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