Mamallapuram awaits a rescue act

PWD seeks Centre’s nod to construct groynes to the north of the Shore Temple, at a cost of ₹95.95 cr.

December 12, 2019 12:52 am | Updated 12:52 am IST - CHENNAI

Faced with a fiast receding shoreline on the northern side of the Mamallapuram Shore Temple, the Public Works Department is awaiting funds for a coastal protection project, which involves the construction of groynes at a cost of ₹95.95 crore.

According to PWD, the shoreline has been receding by 4-5 m every year. A proposal for the construction of eight T-shaped groynes, covering a distance of nearly 2.2 km, including the Mamallapuram hamlet, has been sent to the Central Water Commission (CWC).

Funds have been sought under the 12th plan on coastal protection for the most vulnerable locations, based on a preliminary study carried out by the National Institute of Ocean Technology.

PWD officials said unlike groynes built with boulders, those being proposed now would be constructed with geo-synthentic tubes filled with sand. They are designed to withstand waves rising to a height of 3-4 m, and can also sustain shocks caused by wave action. This will also help protect the world heritage site.

Previously, a rubble-mound groyne was constructed near the temple during the 1970s, by the Archaeological Survey of India, an official said.

Residents of Mamallapuram want groynes to be built in order to reclaim the shoreline. B. Sugumaran, a resident, said the sea advanced inland every year, particularly between August and January. Sometimes, the changes in the shoreline during the monsoon remain. “We have already placed boulders to safeguard the hamlet. We are losing space to berth boats. Our hamlet is only 100-150 m away from the sea,” he said. According to the National Assessment of Shoreline Changes along the Indian coast and a status report for the 1990-2016 period, Tamil Nadu has lost 41% of its shoreline to erosion in the past two decades. Of the 991.47 km of shoreline surveyed for the report, nearly 407.05 km has been lost to erosion.

The report, by the National Centre for Coastal Research and released in July 2018, noted that the construction of harbours, beach sand mining and the building of dams across rivers that block the supply of sediments to the coastline were some of the reasons for erosion, besides natural causes such as sea-level rise and cyclones. Of the 84-km coastline in Kancheepuram district, nearly 44 km is facing the threat of erosion, the study said. PWD officials said work would be taken up within a few months of funds being approved. Once the project is completed in 18 months, about 40-50% of the sand could be reclaimed in two years and the coastal villages and the rich heritage, showcased to the world recently during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit, could be protected, they added.

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