Hamlets along Puduchery's north coast face threat of erosion

Losing ground: Beaches in Puducherry recede by 0.5 to 1 km every year; right, seawall and groynes that have caved in due to erosion near Solai Nagar.

Losing ground: Beaches in Puducherry recede by 0.5 to 1 km every year; right, seawall and groynes that have caved in due to erosion near Solai Nagar.   | Photo Credit: S.S. KUMARTHE HINDU


Report from the NCCR shows that around 57% of Puducherry’s coast exposed to risk; environmentalists blame fishing harbour

With the Puducherry government yet to come out with any lasting solution to tackle coastal erosion, fishermen in hamlets located to the north of the coast especially Solai Nagar, Kuruchikuppam and Vaithikuppam are now facing a grave threat with the sea inching ever closer to their doorsteps.

The sea has turned rough over the last one month and fishermen from Solai Nagar are finding it extremely difficult to navigate their boats into sea. Already, a substantial portion of the seawall and groynes erected along the coast have caved in due to advancing seawaters.

“The seawater has now started coming close to habitations in Solai Nagar. Many fishermen have been keeping away from the sea for the past few days as the risk of boats running aground in the waters is very high. The net mending shed in Solai Nagar north has been heavily damaged due to erosion. The problem is acute from the months of November to January,” says M. Murali, a fisherman from Solai Nagar.

A report by the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), under the Ministry of Earth Sciences said around 57% of Puducherry’s coast was eroding. Puducherry is second only to West Bengal which recorded erosion at 63.5% followed by Kerala at 45% and Tamil Nadu at 41%.

Cumulative analysis

The report shows that long-term cumulative analysis of the coast from 1990 to 2016, indicates that 57% of the coast has eroded, 35% was in a stable condition and only 8% under accreting condition. Artificial structures play a major role in promoting erosion along coasts. Coastal hamlets to the north of the harbour, including Kalapet, face consistent erosion, according to the report.

The steady erosion of Puducherry’s coastline, which originally extend almost 100 m into the sea, is believed to have begun with the establishment of the fishing harbour in 1989, say environmentalists.

The problem started in 1989 when the Puducherry government constructed two breakwaters. The construction of the harbour, with its wall projecting into the sea, blocked the movement of sand from the south towards the north. Though a sand bypassing system was provided at the harbour to regularly shift the sand from south to north, this has not been done resulting in erosion along the northern side.

The harbour has already eroded an estimated 10 km of beach sand and continues to erode the beaches along the Tamil Nadu coastline

Starved of sand

According to Pondicherry Citizens Action Network (PondyCan), the sand movement along the coast is said to be one of the highest in the country. The net displacement of sand northwards has been calculated at 0.5 million cubic metres a year. Beaches on the northern side of the coastline are now starved of sand and have started disappearing. Puducherry has been losing 0.5 to 1 km of beach every year.

According to Aurofilio Schiavina, an expert on coastal management, “The erosion of the coastal hamlets to the north of the harbour is not clearly visible because the beaches have already eroded and all one can see is a seawall. But at the base of the seawall (under the water), the erosion continues and the seawall keeps sinking.”

Reason for relevance

“As the erosion continues, the sea gets deeper and larger waves keep coming close to the hamlets. At the same time the seawall also keeps sinking, further exposing the hamlets to the waterfront. The beach restoration project has only slowed down the erosion but it has not reversed it. The fight against beach erosion is still very relevant,” he added.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 7:34:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/hamlets-along-puducherys-north-coast-face-threat-of-erosion/article30552578.ece

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