Soil erosion, accretion chip away at fishers' lives in Tharuvaikulam

Kulanthai Thresamma Church and Santhiyagappar Church, located 500 metres apart, are also highly likely to be submerged as the sea is advancing aggressively.
Experts have opined that accretion and soil erosion occurs due to man-made constructions into the sea.
Experts have opined that accretion and soil erosion occurs due to man-made constructions into the sea.

THOOTHUKUDI : Severe soil erosion and accretion over the past few years have impacted fishing activities near the Tharuvaikulam fishing harbour coast. Meanwhile, the fishers have demanded that an inland fishing harbour be built at the bank of the stream merging with the sea between Vellapatti and Tharuvaikulam to facilitate the docking of mechanised gillnet fishing vessels, small fishing vessels and country boats without affecting the shores.

The inadequate facilities have left the fishers in a lurch.

With over 220 mechanised gillnetters, 30 small gillnetters and over 50 country craft boats, Tharuvaikulam is a busy fishing hamlet. Tharuvaikulam fishermen had traded nearly 10,000 tonnes of fish in 2023-24 at the Fish Landing Centre (FLC), opened in 2015. Over 5,000 people also earn a living through fishing and other allied businesses such as ice bar manufacturing, storage, transportation and trading.

Three rows of T-headed jetties extended at least 300 metres into the sea from the beach to moor the vessels. However, these jetties are not suitable to unload the catch due to the shallow waters, say fishermen. "The water was at least 15 feet deep when the jetty was constructed a decade ago. But over the years, the shoreline has been subject to rampant change, with accretion of over 50 feet from the shore," said Sellathurai, a fisherman.

Punitha Nicolasiar Paruvalai Sangam president P Anthony Churchill said as the jetties are in shallow waters, many fishers anchor the boats at least 200 metres away from the jetties, he said. The violent wave keeps the sea turbulent, which damages the boats when tied to the jetty, added Churchill.

"The fishing vessels, while returning with the catch, stop over one kilometre offshore and waits for the high tide to move near the T-jetty. Similarly, the vessels moored at the jetty get stuck during low tides  and must wait for the high tide to head back into the sea,” said Joseph, a fisherman

Kulanthai Thresamma Church and Santhiyagappar Church, located 500 metres apart, are also highly likely to be submerged as the sea is advancing aggressively.

"Devotees and church associates have laid boulders and rocks for nearly 200 metres on the beach, in front of the Santhiyagappar Church, to protect it from the violent sea," said Anthony Raj, a churchgoer.

Sand accumulation on over three acres between the two churches has come in handy as locals are engaged in building boats.

Experts have opined that accretion and soil erosion occurs due to man-made constructions into the sea. "The normal phenomenon of the Gulf of Mannar is to carry the sand towards the north for nearly 8 months in accordance with the wave action. However, when permanent structures such as ports, harbours and jetties hinder the phenomenon, waves erode the coast and deposit the sand in other areas," said a researcher on the condition of anonymity.

While some fishermen’s association members demanded the construction of groynes or bait arch to enclose the jetties, Churchill stated that Tharuvaikulam fishermen have been making good revenue for the government with its gillnetters, a unique and non destructive fishing method.

Given that any construction in the sea would cause damages to the shoreline further, the government must construct an inland fishing harbour on the stream flowing two km south of Tharuvaikulam, he added.

Currently, the state government is constructing a high level bridge over the stream to connect Tharuvaikulam and Vellapatti for Rs 7 crore, sources said.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com