Twenty kilometres of sea-invading stretch between Vypin and Munambam require a detailed survey of its ocean-floor depth before authorities venture into shore-protection works, according to an expert panel assigned by Kerala State Coastal Area Development Corporation (KSCADC).
Authorities should go for a detailed bathymetry, which will analyse underwater variations in the sea-floor relief, while charting major construction projects to contain coastal erosion in the region, a study by IIT-Madras told the state-owned KSADC that integrates development activities in Kerala’s coastal areas to accelerate the development of the fisher community. The mission was funded by Goshree Islands Development Authority (GIDA), headed by the Chief Minister.
The pertinent stretch in Ernakulam district requires an integrated coastal development approach by employing groyne fields, offshore breakwaters and strengthening of existing seawalls, while leaving certain sections in their present state. The study also suggests creating three fisherfolk villages along the region covering six panchayats, where the team carried out intense study in 16 locations. Further, the fishing months can be doubled from the present four months a year if authorities construct safe grounding facilities with groynes in prescribed angles.
The coastal conservation warrants a comprehensive investigative study at all the sites to ensure the geo-technical stability of the proposed gravity structures, pointed out IIT-M Professors V. Sundar and S.A. Sannasiraj, who led the three-year study which was formally released today. The team also employed wave analysis and prediction of sand movements.
There should be a “meticulous and continuous monitoring” of the shoreline changes during the construction phase of the protection, said the study which concluded in December 2021. “Any major deviations from the equilibrium have to be brought to the notice of IIT Madras,” Prof Sundar pointed out in his 30-minute power-point presentation at Cochin University of Science and Technology in South Kalamassery in the presence of Industry Minister P. Rajeeve. Others on the dais included Vypin MLA K.N. Unnikrishnan, former legislator S. Sharma and KSCADC Managing Director Sheik Pareeth.
As the administration estimates an expense of around Rs 300 crore to carry out the IIT-M proposals, Shri Rajeeve said the report has come out suitably ahead of the preparations for the 2023-24 Budget. “The seawalls at Chellanam are being built in a time-bound manner. Its second phase will begin shortly,” he added.
Legislator Unnikrishnan said the coastal area deserves strong protection, considering the state’s renewed focus on tourism where seashores are vital travel attractions. Ex-MLA Sharma reiterated that Vypin-Munambam has been all the more vulnerable to coastal erosion since the 2004 tsunami that also claimed five lives in Edavanakad village of the belt.
Pareeth said four locations —Cherai, Kuzhipally, Saidh Mohammed and Valappu — will be beautified (as per the IIT-M report) after checking sea erosion by offshore breakwater projects. This will be done by employing geotubes in a pioneering initiative in the country. District Development Commissioner Chetan Kumar Meena proposed thanks. The participants at the function included officials from various departments of the government and KSCADC Board members.
People’s representatives at the gathering, while hailing the development plan proposals, called for their prompt implementation. For this, a team representing the six pertinent panchayats will soon meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who chairs GIDA.
The IIT-M panel was entrusted with the study with the objective of investigating the shoreline erosion rate along the 20-km stretch along Vipin area, north of the city, through satellite imageries over the past two decades. The team was also assigned to study, among others, the annual wave climate off the Vipin coastal stretches through detailed numerical modelling validated through measurements off the Kochi coast.
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