CHENNAI: A portion of the compound wall of the Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA)’s experimental station at Muttukadu has caved-in due to massive sea erosion. This, it is stated, was caused after the State fisheries department built a row of groynes.
CIBA Director K Vijayan told Express that high tide waves are hitting the compound wall and already loosened its foundation in several portions. Two days back, all the three steps which provide access to the facility from the sea front caved in.
“The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has already ordered the fisheries department to remove the groynes. We have written letters to the fisheries Commissioner Beela Rajesh, the department secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi and other concerned authorities to implement the NGT order and save the central government institution from getting eroded. Around `10 crore worth of equipment are in the facility,” he said.
Knowing the crisis, SA Sannasiraj of the Department of Ocean Engineering, IIT-Madras, visited the spot on Friday for a firsthand information. He interacted with CIBA scientists. Incidentally, it was IIT-M experts who provided the original design for the project.
When contacted, Sannasiraj said the project is only partially completed, which is dangerous. “The current erosion is the result of incomplete execution of the project. Such projects can’t be stopped in between. The length of groynes built on CIBA station sea front measures about 40 to 20 metres, which is not enough and this is causing erosion. Things would still worsen, if the project is not completed fully as per original design,” he said.
Fisheries officials said they were not able to execute the project fully due to NGT order. They admitted it was a mistake to commence the project without obtaining coastal regulation zone clearance from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority. “Now, we have applied for clearance and once we get it, rest of the project will be expedited on priority,” an official said.
As a temporary measure, fisheries department engineers are filling CIBA station seafront with sand bags in the gaps between groynes to minimise damage. On the question of feasibility of removing the groynes, Sannasiraj said it will not solve anything.
“Only 20 per cent of the structure can be dismantled. The top layer groynes can be removed, but that will make the bottom structure unstable over a period of time and cave-in. If the stones go into the deep sea it won’t be a problem, but if they accumulate near the coast then they will act as sea wall, which will compound the problems,” he said.