KOCHI: As part of protecting the coir sector in Kerala, the state government has issued orders to all the local bodies to ensure that the majority of the village roads are strengthened using coir geotextiles.
Now, coir products should be used to prevent soil erosion. The plan projects for next financial year of the local bodies will include laying of roads with this technology.
Though geotextiles were used for strengthening of roads abroad, this was not that much popular in India. As part of popularising geotextiles, former Coir Board chairman G Balachandran had written to the Union and State Governments to use coir products for strengthening of roads which can help in protecting the coir sector. Coir Board consultant Kumaraswamy said that last year, 4,468 metric tonnes of geotextiles were exported which earned a foreign exchange of Rs 35 crore. However, there is not much encouragement in the country to use this environment-friendly product which could also reduce the total expenditure for laying roads.
Local-Self Government joint secretary C Valsala issued orders to all the grama, block and district panchayats to ensure that geotextiles are used to lay the village roads. The circular also said that priority should be given to popularise this product to protect roads, ponds, streams and rivers.
Kumaraswamy pointed out that synthetic geotextiles were used by other countries which ensures more strength but it is not environment-friendly. When roads are laid one or two layers of geotextiles could also be laid along with stones and sand so that it ensures more durability of roads. “It is often seen that two sides of the roads will become lower than the normal level as vehicles continuously pass through these areas. If geotextiles are used there will not be such a phenomenon and the roads will be even,” he said.
If the local bodies starts using geotextiles, the major beneficiary will be Tamil Nadu. Kerala will also be benefited with the coir available here can be used and weaving being done to manufacture geotextiles from coir brought from other states.
For a four-metre wide road, around 4,000 square metre of geotextiles could be used for a kilometre. At present, the one square metre of geotextiles could be sold at `65 to 70 which could benefit those in the coir industry. It is proposed to lay at least 50 to 100 km of road in each district in the first phase, which could be increased further if there are good results. Already geotextiles are being used by some of the panachayats in Pattanakkadu, Kazhakoottam and Harippad.
The technical agency for implementing the project is National Institute of Technology (NIT) Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram Engineering College. This project has also been included in the Gram Sadak Yojana of Rural Development Department. Kerala Grama Panchayat Association state president Mathew P T said that it is learnt that using geotextiles would increase the durability of roads. The suggestion of the government will be implemented by the local bodies as it will help in checking soil erosion.
Roads which are steep often gets damaged in rain and using geotextiles will help in reducing the damage. This will also help in rejuvenating the coir industry, he added.