THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The deployment of geo-tubes filled with sea sand could be a game changer in the state’s coastal conservation efforts. These giant tubes could largely replace long boulder walls to check acute sea erosion in eight coastal districts. The tubes will be placed at the seashore near the high tide line to minimise the impact of waves.The government will make a comprehensive plan for using geo-tubes based on a report submitted by Chennai-based National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT).
“We will prepare the report based on the requirement of the state government. We are awaiting their response,” said Basantakumar Jena, a senior scientist at NIOT. His team made a presentation before Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma last week.
The use of granite blocks in large quantities for checking sea erosion began at the end of the 19th century. Erecting seawalls using boulders has found to be ineffective in checking sea erosion. The MS Swaminathan Committee report of 2011 was critical of the use of this method. Besides causing ecological damage due to large-scale quarrying, the fishers have complained that the unscientific construction of sea walls had led to intense sea erosion. According to the fisheries department, the state has a coastline of 590 km and only 46.3 km is stable.
The state has successfully experimented with geo-tubes in the past. But this is the first time it has decided to curb the use of unscientific sea walls. “The minister is enthusiastic about the new method. She will review the report once she returns to office after a brief illness,” said a senior officer in the ministry.A permanent rehabilitation has been a long-pending demand for the fishermen community, which has been frequently affected by sea erosion.
The rehabilitation of the community affected by sea erosion along the Alappuzha-Thiruvananthapuram coast was the first project taken up by the minister after she took charge.The state is chalking out an Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project, which could help pave the way for a comprehensive rehabilitation of coastal people who are affected by sea erosion. Around 22,000 people in eight coastal districts are affected by sustained sea erosion. There are 8 lakh fishers in 223 coastal villages in the state.