Decks have been cleared for the implementation of the ₹100-crore Chennai Shoreline Re-nourishment and Revitalisation Project, covering the 30-km stretch between the Marina and Kovalam, with the Tamil Nadu government agreeing to establish a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the project.
The project has been conceived for a number of reasons. Despite the city having a natural and long shoreline, the access to the coastline is not continuous but fragmented in stretches. The issue of conservation from the climate perspective remains unaddressed. Other than the Marina and Elliot’s (Besant Nagar) beaches, there are approximately 20 other disconnected shorefronts which are underutilised. A stretch of 3 km along the coast faces low erosion and approximately a 7-km stretch faces low accretion.
“Although the levels of erosion and accretion are low, it is time to initiate the environmental conservation and effective management of the coastline as a whole,” said an order issued on Monday by Hitesh Kumar Makwana, principal secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
To be implemented in phases with the involvement of all stakeholders, the project is likely to connect the fragmented portions of the beaches as esplanades for using physical and social infrastructure and promoting art and culture. On assessment, activities such as preservation of flora and fauna, installation of bio-fences to tackle the rising sea level, and creation of shoreline parks with salt-tolerant species may be taken up.
It is proposed to identify prominent nodes along the stretches for development as public spaces with distinctive themes and designs. The problem of pollution will also be tackled. The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) will consider extending the shoreline revitalisation beyond Kovalam.
The principal secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development will be the chairman of the SPV. The Member-Secretary of the CMDA will be the Chief Executive Officer. The other members include the Additional Chief Secretary (Environment, Climate Change and Forest ); the Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the Tamil Nadu Urban Finance and Infrastructure Development Corporation; the Member-Secretaries of the State Coastal Zone Management Authority, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the State Planning Commission; the Managing Directors of the Urban Habitat Development Board and the Tourism Development Corporation; and the Directors of the National Centre for Coastal Research and the National institute of Ocean Technology.
S.A. Sannasiraj, professor, Department of Ocean Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, is one of the members.
The CMDA will initiate the process for selecting a consultant to prepare a comprehensive shoreline development plan, the government order adds.