THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Sea erosion and violent waves triggered by the South-West monsoon have started battering the Kerala coast. However, the much-hyped off-shore breakwater project mooted by the state government across the entire coastline is yet to gain momentum. The project which was announced almost seven months ago by Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma to safeguard Kerala’s coast with geo-tubes instead of granite seawall is yet to take off.
An amount of Rs 150 crore has been sanctioned by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) for the phase I of the project. The pilot phase of the project which involved construction of off-shore breakwater at the Poonthura-Valiyathura stretch -- one of the worst-hit areas in the state capital -- was expected to begin before this monsoon. KIIFB had allocated Rs 17 crore for the same.
Kerala Coastal Area Development Corporation (KSADC), the agency entrusted with executing the project, is gearing up to open the tender by the end of this month. “We had to re-tender the project because it’s funded by KIIFB. This stipulates following a rigorous procedure before announcing the tender. Initially, we thought all the paper work could be done later as it is an emergency project but KIIFB objected to it. Hence, we had to start everything again. We will open the bid by the end of this month. It will take another two months to complete tendering procedures.
The plan was to complete the project in six months. Now, we are aiming to complete it before the next monsoon so that we can study the impact of the offshore breakwater,” said a senior official of KSADC.
The official said the project would be implemented in other places based on the result of the pilot project. “There are only a few players in the country who have expertise in offshore breakwaters. Also, the ban on procuring Chinese products may have an impact on the work. Many materials needed for offshore breakwater construction are imported from China. Hence, we are uncertain about the construction progress,” said the official.
The plan is to construct offshore breakwater along the 700-metre coastline from Poonthura to Valiyathura. If the project proves to be a success, it would be extended to Shankhumukham Beach which is also facing severe sea erosion. Former scientist at the National Centre for Earth Science Studies K V Thomas said that off-shore breakwaters could be a solution for the Kerala coast.