KOCHI: While the passing cyclone Tauktae had a devastating impact on the Kerala coast over the past few days, it has left Fort Kochi grappling with a different problem. The high waves have washed ashore a pile of plastic and biowaste.
Though such accumulation is regular in the area during the monsoon season, this time it has been three times the waste seen every year. The authorities are concerned whether the usual procedure of using earthmovers will be enough to clean up the entire beach.
“It will take over a week to remove the waste completely,” said Antony Kureethara, Fort Kochi counsellor.“The sea is still rough and more waste is accumulating daily. As the triple lockdown has affected the movement of people engaged in cleaning, we may require a joint operation involving persons from the Navy, Coast Guard, police and other agencies to complete the cleaning process.”
He said the waste dumped in the backwaters and the Vembanad lake washed ashore in large quantities. Besides, there is waste from transit ships and boats.“There is a huge pile of thermoplastic dumped by ships and boats. The cleaning of ships takes place in the outer sea, off the Kochi coast. Similarly, there are plastic bottles and coconut shells dumped into the backwaters and the Vembanad lake,” he said.
Stormy weather also destroyed walkways close to the Fort Kochi beach.“On Friday and Saturday, the sea was too rough for us to even come close to the beach. A major portion of the walkway was already in a dilapidated state and the cyclone damaged it further. A complete makeover is required to make Fort Kochi accessible for tourists,” said Sajo Devasia, a local resident.
In 2017, a section of the walkway had caved in to sea erosion. Last month, IIT Madras submitted a report to the tourism department suggesting measures to prevent sea erosion in the area. The tourism department has to hand over the IIT report to the irrigation department to conduct the necessary work. “All tourism projects are moving at a snail’s pace. The Kochi corporation has allocated Rs 50 lakh for the beautification of Fort Kochi so that it remains a favourite spot for tourists coming to Kochi,” Antony said.