THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The shoreline of Kovalam, one of the iconic international tourist destinations in Kerala, has been witnessing massive destruction as rough sea conditions and sea advancement are becoming a regular affair. The tourism department had sanctioned Rs 8.35 crore for the beach protection project and had roped in the harbour engineering department to carry out a model study to come up with effective measures to prevent sea erosion and protect the serene beaches at Kovalam.
The actual plan of the harbour engineering department (HED) was to protect the beach using T-head groynes which were cost-effective. However, after the completion of the model study, the department has now proposed offshore breakwater using geotubes/groynes to protect the shoreline at Hawa Beach to Lighthouse Beach. The department’s offshore breakwater project proposal for Kovalam has come at a time when experts are raising apprehensions about such measures. It is learnt that similar projects taken up in other states have been a disaster.
A senior official of the department told TNIE that they have submitted their report along with the recommendations for beach protection to the tourism department. “We have recommended offshore breakwater on the lines of the ongoing breakwater project at Poonthura. The only problem is that this is a new technology and all our models show offshore breakwater is suitable for Kovalam. Besides, T-head groynes will not be safe for the tourists and it will take away the beauty of the beach. We have also proposed beach nourishment along with the breakwater,” said the official.
The HED has proposed a 160-metre-long offshore breakwater at Hawa Beach and 180-metre-long offshore breakwater at Lighthouse Beach. The proposed project is estimated to cost around Rs 22 crore for offshore breakwater using geotube and `40 crore for construction of an offshore breakwater using rubbles. “The project is under the consideration of the tourism department and now they have to choose a feasible option from the recommendation we gave them,” the official added.
The state government has already sanctioned Rs 150 crore for the protection of shorelines along the Thiruvananthapuram coast. According to officials, this fund can be used for breakwater construction at Kovalam.
A senior tourism department official said the proposal submitted by the HED is under the consideration of the state government. “The department is giving utmost priority to the revival of Kovalam, which is the face of tourism in Kerala. A decision would be taken without any delay and the project would be executed in a time-bound manner,” said the official.
Phase II of revival project halted
During the previous term, the LDF government had launched `20 crore worth of infrastructure development activities to revive and give a facelift to Kovalam. However, the Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society Ltd (ULCCS), the agency executing the project, has failed to implement phase II of the project because of heavy sea erosion.
It is learnt that the majority of the components are coming up on the beaches at Kovalam. The second phase of the project aims at sprucing up Hawa, Sea Rock and Lighthouse beaches. The project includes two 13-foot-wide and 400-metre-long walkways, a laser show facility and tripods for coastal safety. The ULCCS has halted the second phase work because of heavy sea erosion.
An official associated with the revival project said they have halted the project following the direction of the tourism department. “We cannot execute the project without the completion of the beach protection project. We are restoring the amenities which get destroyed in sea erosion every year and we need a permanent solution to this issue. Money is getting wasted in restoration projects which get swallowed by the sea,” the official added.
- Proposed project estimated at Rs 22 crore will install offshore breakwater using geo tube
- It will cost Rs 40 crore if rubbles are used