Failure of artificial reef: Probe sought
THIRUVANATHAPURAM: Kerala Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation (KSMTF) and Kerala Tourism Watch have demanded a comprehensive judicial probe and scientific inquiry, as well as social audit,into the failure of the multi-purpose artificial reef in Kovalam.
At a press conference here on Thursday, KSMTF president T Peter demanded a judicial probe into the diversion of Rs 8 crore of tsunami funds.
“Tsunami funds meant for coastal communities were wasted on tourism infrastructure while the rehabilitation of tsunami-affected communities still waits to be addressed,” Peter said.
“The Kerala Tourism officials promote ASR Limited, the New Zealand-based MNC that designed the reef in Kovalam,” he said.
“The reef has proven itself to be a failure in Kerala. However, more reefs are being planned in India using Asian Development Bank and World Bank funds in other States such as Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka,’’ Peter said.
He said the reefs were destroyed as soon as it was inaugurated.
‘’Two weeks after its inauguration, geo-textile bags, the key component of the reef washed up at Kovalam and nearby seashores. The shore seine fishing nets of Kovalam are yielding more damaged portions of the artificial reef than fish resources.
“At the same time ASR Limited is engaged in aggressive propaganda and lobbying for more reefs, highlighting the Kovalam artificial reef as an indisputable model. The Kerala Tourism officials promote ASR Limited as part of their tourism promotion agenda”, Peter said.
Sanjeev Ghosh, former Additional Director, Department of Fisheries, demanded a judicial inquiry to expose the unholy nexus of bureaucrats, scientists and MNCs.
Ghosh said that the nexus was evident in the manner in which the project evolved over the years. The initial project proposal was for 3000 cubic metres and cost Rs 4 crore.
The project received a facelift midway, where its volume increased by a third to 1,000 cubic metres while the cost doubled to Rs 8 crore.
“Strangely,” he said, “the absurd calculation had been approved by the Government agencies concerned.”
The coastal Marine Task Force of the State Planning Board had earlier rejected the proposal for artificial reefs in Kerala.
“However, the Tourism Department had no inhibitions about approving the same project using Tsunami funds,” Ghosh said. “These facts lead us to look at the whole thing with suspicion,” he added.
K C Sreekumar, Theeradesha Samrakshana Samithi, Sajeer Abdul Rehman, member, Kerala Tourism Watch also participated in the press conference.