Sea erosion, a source of constant worry for fishermen in Kanyakumari

COMBATING EROSION: At Maramady, a rubble-mound wall has been erected on the beach to prevent sea erosion. — Photo: A. Shaikmohideen

COMBATING EROSION: At Maramady, a rubble-mound wall has been erected on the beach to prevent sea erosion. — Photo: A. Shaikmohideen  

Ramya Kannan

KANYAKUMARI: Sea erosion is a matter of grave concern for fisherfolk in western coastal villages of Kanyakumari district where vast stretches of the beach have disappeared in the wake of relentless onslaught by the sea.

The rubble-mound seawalls and groynes, in addition to being effective barriers against tsunami, give the fisherfolk a sense of security. The tsunami became an opportunity for them to reiterate their plea for protection from the sea. Post-tsunami, a rubble-mound seawall was built at Maramady near Colachel.

"In the Western coast, comprising about 60 km of the district, the sea is more turbulent and rough," says Kanyakumari Collector Sunil Paliwal. Sea erosion is a perennial problem, he admits.

Work on constructing rubble-mound walls is all set to begin in 13 villages along the Arabian Sea coast in the district, to the delight of locals. The villages include Kovalam, where sea erosion is apparent.

Fishermen coming in with their catch from the sea are hopeful that the proposed wall will protect them.

In Periyakadu, where Chief Minister Jayalalithaa sanctioned construction of another wall recently, a groyne extends a few feet into the sea. Other villages that will get rubble-mound seawalls in the next few months include Thengaipattinam, Vallavilai, Marthanduthurai, Chinnathurai, Poothurai, Mullurthurai, Thuthur, Neerodithurai, Erayumanthurai, Raviputhanthurai and Kodimunai.

Groynes will be constructed in the eastern bay section at Ratchagar Street in Agatheeswaram taluk.

While the government's moves are being appreciated, villages that do not figure in the list are feeling left out. As in Keezhamanakudi, a coastal village, where 40 persons died and over 171 shelters were destroyed in the tsunami.

"The sea is violent in this part of the coast, especially in April, May and August," says Alphonse an aged fisherman. "The sea has eaten so much into the beach. We have been asking for groynes for several years now, but nothing has come forth yet."

Markus, another fisherman of the village, points out that neighbouring Melamanakudi has been sanctioned a wall.

Mr. Paliwal explains that a Rs. 159 crore proposal to protect the entire Kanyakumari coast is pending with the State Government. In addition to the Rs. 11 crore sanctioned recently for the 11 villages, Rs. 2.19 crore has already been utilised to build protective structures at Kotilpaadu, Azhikal, Maramady, Vavathurai, Melamanakudi and Enayaputhanthurai.

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